Posts Tagged ‘ infant mortality ’

Prenatal Genetic Testing

Hi all! My name is Katherine Brown and I am the summer intern here NHSA. I have an interest in the genetic field, specifically with the prenatal aspect and advocating for prenatal screening/testing, which all relate to what we promote and advocate here at NHSA.Katherine headshot2

Most of the projects being implemented at NHSA revolve around building educational skills to be healthy before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and in between pregnancies. These interventions are vital considering the U.S. statistics on infant mortality rates are nothing to brag about. In fact, according to Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers report, every year twice the numbers of babies die on their first day alive than all 27 European Union nation combined. And get this: 1 million more babies are born there compared to the U.S! This is why NHSA supports the Federal Healthy Start Initiative and developed Celebrate day 366…Every Baby Deserves a Chance, and why prenatal screenings/testing need to be promoted to increase the chance of celebrating Day 366!

Genomic medicine has grown tremendously within the last couples of years. Prenatal testing can detect your baby’s health and growth before it is even born. Prenatal testing also tests how the mother is during throughout pregnancy. It is a win-win situation for both! We now have tests, mentioned in the March of Dimes article posted below, that can tell early within your pregnancy (within the first trimester) if your child may have any genetic conditions like Down syndrome, heart defects, birth defects, or cystic fibrosis. It is extremely important to continue prenatal testing throughout the pregnancy to understand how you and the baby are growing. For example sometimes mothers will acquire gestational diabetes during second trimester and prenatal screening can detect that. During your third trimester most screenings will test for group B strep that a mother can acquire and then pass down to her baby. It is also important to know your own family history of disease or what your specific ethnicity may be more prone to, i.e. cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia, before planning to have a child. Make a list of all cancers, genetic disorders, mental illnesses, etc. shown to have affected your family tree and take it to a genetic counselor that will take time to talk with you and discuss options for conceiving the healthiest child possible.

The importance of having all of these factors detected before giving birth is that prevention or treatment can start immediately which means a longer and better quality of life for your child.

If you would like more information on genetic counseling or prenatal testing, please check out the links below.

  1. http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/prenatal-tests.aspx

 

  1. http://www.genome.gov/Pages/Health/PatientsPublicInfo/GeneticTestingWhatItMeansForYourHealth.pdf

 

  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/prenataltesting.html

 

 

 

 

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Turning Up the Volume On Infant Mortality: Every Baby Matters!

Lisa Matthews is the MomsFirst Project Director and Secretary for the NHSA Board of Directors.

Despite the allocation of substantial resources and the hard work of many dedicated public health workers and medical clinicians engaged in a wide variety of private and public efforts, Ohio’s infant mortality numbers have remained essentially stagnant for more than a decade.  Based on the urgent need to address Ohio’s infant death challenge in a new way, with new resolve and new levels of state and community-wide cooperation, on November 28, 2012 the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality held its first Infant Mortality Summit, titled Turning Up the Volume On Infant Mortality: Every Baby Matters! 

The summit featured nationally recognized plenary speakers in the fields of health, medicine, and community organization:  Ted Wymyslo, M.D. Director, Ohio Department of Health; Arthur James, M.D., Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology, The Ohio State University; Michael C. Lu, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., Administrator, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Mario Drummonds, M.S., L.C.S.W., M.B.A., CEO and Executive Director, Northern Manhattan Perinatal Project; and Magda Peck, Sc.D., Founding Dean and Professor, Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The many breakout sessions, roundtable discussions, displays and posters sandwiched between and around plenary sessions represented a broad menu of topics geared largely to what works to improve the health of our moms and babies.  Both of Ohio’s Healthy Start Project, Caring For Two and MomsFirst, were invited to share their expertise on Effective Care Coordination Strategies, Preconception Planning including the importance of reproductive life planning, and Perinatal Depression.

Ohio’s Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality is a growing group made up of a wide variety of individuals and organizations across Ohio united with a single purpose:  to prevent infant mortality and disparities.  The collaborative includes some of Ohio’s most knowledgeable, experienced, and respected professionals in a variety of disciplines impacting maternal and infant health and representing many influential organizations addressing infant mortality by combining proven, universal best practices and knowledge with unique community-level solutions.

This summit was supported by the March of Dimes Ohio Chapter, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Ohio Section, the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Ohio Better Birth Outcomes, Columbus Public Health Caring for Two Program, and the Ohio Department of Health.

The Volume on Infant Mortality was turned up really loud in Ohio with the hopes of breaking out of the public health and clinical boundaries to effect change in the social determinants of health that so profoundly affect infant mortality.  Another Summit was promised to take place in two years to reflect on the progress Ohio makes to ensure more of its babies grow up to be healthy, productive citizens.

Video recordings of all plenary presentations and audio recordings of 11 of the breakout sessions from the November 28, 2012 Infant Mortality Summit are now online.  Accompanying PowerPoint slides are included.  Access these presentations on the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality Website at http://bit.ly/imsummitpresentations

September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Barbara Lee Jackson is the Interim Executive Director at the National Healthy Start Association.

When I considered what I would write about in my blog today commemorating Infant Mortality Awareness Month, I thought I would start by clarifying my understanding of the word “awareness.”  I want to be sure I am expressing it correctly to inspire and demonstrate my own actions!

 Awareness is the “state or condition of being aware; having knowledge; consciousness”.  That’s a good start, but I’m going to focus on the word “aware” because that is really where we need to be. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary  (online), “aware” has Middle English origins, and expressed as iwar, or an older reference in Old English as gewær, from ge- (associative prefix) + wær wary — more at co-, wary.  Although an archaic form,  “wary” means being keenly “cautious, cunning, and watchful.”  That’s it! Being keenly “cunning” describes a person that is “knowledgeable or learned.”  So, if you are joining me in the Infant Mortality Awareness Campaign, my dear colleagues, are you “knowledgeable and learned” about infant mortality in the United States, what is it that you know and what can you do about it?  (Please note, I did not ask you if you WANT to be “knowledgeable or learned”; that’s another blog!)

 Well, here is a bit of information we should all know.  In a 2012 worldwide ranking by the CIA World Factbook — a report of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency — the U.S. infant mortality rate ranked 49th, ahead of Croatia at No. 50, while Monaco ranked No. 1, with an infant mortality rate of 1.80 per 1,000 live births. The United States infant mortality rate is 6.0 per 1000 live births, and if we are going to beat out Monaco and become No. 1, what is it that we need to do? 

First, we need to become aware and with many public health awareness campaigns, like breast cancer awareness for example, the information in the message is a deliberate effort to motivate individuals to take action. The kind of action we want you to take to address infant mortality in this country, involves understanding the issues, knowing what is going on in your community and/or state, and getting connected!  Joining other concerned individuals and/or organizations in partnership to find the solutions to the myriad of issues impacting pregnant women and their families that are at risk of having adverse birth outcomes is the kind of action needed to move the United States into the No. 1 spot!

Here are some ideas to take action!

  • Get connected and involved with a Healthy Start Project operating in your state!  If none exist in your area, check with your State Title V program, (Maternal and Child Health & Children with Special Health Care Needs) MCH/CSHCN.  It is the state agency funded by the federal government that support pregnant women, infants and children and ask them about the rates of infant morbidity and mortality in your state.  If the infant death rate is above1.8 per 1000 births in your community and/or state, ask the Title V officials what they are doing to work with pregnant women and their families to ensure healthy birth outcomes.
  • Take advantage of the resources provided by the National Healthy Start Association. We are ready to help!  Visit our website at www.nationalhealthystart.org and check out our Celebrate Day 366 Infant Mortality Awareness Campaign. You’ll find many resources on our  Raise Awareness page including an Infant Mortality Awareness Campaign Toolkit, Fact Sheet, web badge, and other promotional items.

Get in the know to take action in your community and/or state to impact our national standing, together we can make the United States No. 1!

Healthy Start & Text4baby: Honoring National Infant Mortality Awareness Month through a Shared Mission

Sarah Ingersoll is the Campaign Director for text4baby at the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition

This September, the maternal and child health community comes together around National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. Sadly, health disparities in infant mortality rates linger in this country despite our best efforts to support and educate moms. The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and the text4baby program share the National Healthy Start Association’s mission to overcome these disparities. During September, we celebrate the progress we are making together to combat poor birth outcomes and infant mortality by connecting more moms to high-quality health and safety information through text4baby.

To the many Healthy Start sites already sharing text4baby with your clients, we say a heartfelt “thank you.” If you aren’t yet familiar with text4baby, we hope you will take time this month to join us in providing this tool to your clients. Text4baby reinforces the health information you already provide to clients, extending and strengthening your relationship with moms and families.

According to Barbara Lee Jackson, Interim Executive Director of the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA), “Encouraging pregnant women to maintain a pro-active attitude in their care using health information is a key service component offered at all Healthy Start project sites and NHSA believes that text4baby offers a unique health education opportunity.  Using text messaging that is direct, fast, and consistent, we are reinforcing healthy behaviors for Healthy Start clients enrolled in the text4baby program. ”

During September, text4baby offers an additional benefit to new text4baby users through our Fall Sign-Up Contest. We’ve created a special code for Healthy Start moms, allowing NHSA and local sites to track your impact on enrolling moms in your community. Moms who sign up for the service between September 1st and September 30th and enter the participant code “HS” when prompted during registration will be entered to win a year´s supply of Johnson´s Baby products.

To learn more about text4baby’s benefits for your Healthy Start community and for details about the contest visit www.nationalhealthystart.org.

DC infant mortality is at an historic low!

Laura Charles-Horne is the Director of Home Visiting and Healthy Start Project Director at Mary’s Center in Washington, DC.

At 8 deaths per thousand, the women, children, and families in the District are experiencing healthier outcomes from the very start and making strides in closing the gap to the national average at 6.1. This is great news for our community as we have struggled for years to make a real impact on improving the health of our most vulnerable members. The infant mortality rate is the best-known indicator of a community’s health status. The measure is used nationally and internationally to compare the health outcomes of jurisdictions and communities. This news is especially wonderful and timely as we close National Minority Health Month – having accomplished the greatest declines among minority populations with 28% decline for non-Hispanic black mothers and 53.8% decline for Hispanic mothers from last year.

Mohammad Akhter, director of the District’s Health Department, cited “long-term investments in support programs for vulnerable mothers and children” as the cause of the decline. Mary’s Center, founded twenty-four years ago with the mission of providing high-quality prenatal care for under-served populations, is pleased by this indication of the success of its comprehensive services. Our city-wide home visiting program, Healthy Start Healthy Families (HSHF), has provided home-based support to pregnant and new parenting families since 1995 to improve birth and childhood outcomes. HSHF demonstrates a combined effort of the national Healthy Families America home visiting model, a national movement to prevent child abuse and neglect, and the federal Healthy Start program, an initiative to reduce infant mortality. The mission of HSHF is to partner with families to ensure that children are healthy, safe, and ready for school through home visitation and linkages with community resources. These results are an example of our sustained work and commitment to our communities through primary care, education, and outreach. The work we do – access to services, linkages to resources, home visits, family support, outreach, parenting education, health education, case management, and much more…all helped to achieve these outcomes.  And for that, I am thankful!  While there is still more work to do, I am encouraged that we will continue to close the gap with sustained effort and strong partnerships so that every child gets to celebrate day 366!

National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Coleen Boyle, PhD, MS Hyg, is the director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  NCBDDD’s mission is to promote the health of babies, children and adults and enhance the potential for full, productive living.

Each year, we at CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) join many organizations in recognizing January as National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Our state-based tracking system shows that birth defects affect one in 33 babies and are a leading cause of infant death in the United States.  More than 5,000 infants die each year because of birth defects. For me and my colleagues at NCBDDD, those numbers aren’t just numbers. They represent real babies and families and underscore our activities to promote the health of babies, children and adults and enhance the potential for full, productive living.

Every day, NCBDDD’s National Birth Defects Prevention Study teaches us about exposures or other factors during pregnancy that might raise or lower the risk of having a baby with a birth defect. Through this important work, we’ve learned that women who take certain medications, are obese, have uncontrolled diabetes, smoke cigarettes, or drink alcohol during pregnancy increase their risk of having a baby born with a birth defect. We are turning this science into action, but we cannot do this alone.

This month and throughout the year, we invite you to draw attention to the ways we know a woman can increase her chance of having a healthy baby—before she becomes pregnant: take folic acid; have regular medical checkups; make sure medical conditions, such as diabetes, are under control; talk to a health care provider about medication use; have tests for infectious diseases and get necessary vaccinations; and do not use cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs.  It’s important to remember that many birth defects happen very early during pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant, so planning a pregnancy is key and can help make a difference.

Like many of you, we are working toward a day when every child is born with the best health possible. We encourage you to use our birth defects prevention resources to help us do that: www.cdc.gov/birthdefects.

We Fight, So Babies Don’t Have To!

Today is World Prematurity Day and our opportunity to focus everyone’s attention on the serious problem of premature birth. Join the National Healthy Start Association and its members in honoring the million babies worldwide who died this year because they were born too soon, and the 12 million more who struggle to survive.

We encourage you to wear purple today in honor of the babies that are born too soon and too small. Also, visit the World Prematurity page on Facebook and “LIKE IT. ” You  can read stories from around the world and share your own. Help spread the word by updating your Facebook status with a message on premature birth. Together we can raise awareness of this serious problem and help more babies start healthy lives. We fight to reduce prematurity because babies shouldn’t have to.