Accepting the Challenge to Reduce the Infant Mortality Rate

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Dr. Janet Seabrook

Infant mortality is the death of an infant before the age of one. According to Statista, the state of Indiana ranked 9th in 2018 with an average of 7.4 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. This rate is even higher among the African-American community. What’s happening to our babies? While the rate and causes of infant mortality vary depending on the country and region, the above source goes on to state that the leading causes of neonatal deaths include pre-term birth complications, intrapartum-related events (birth asphyxia), and sepsis (a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to an infection).

How do we prevent these conditions from occurring? The most important step is effective and consistent pre-natal care.

Finding out that you’re pregnant can bring about a variety of emotions from happiness and joy to disbelief or worry. No matter the reaction, the fact remains that a child is on its way, and care ideally should begin immediately. A major barrier that some moms in low-income environments may encounter is lack of health care coverage or facilities that offer comprehensive pre-natal health care programs.

One of the programs that our team at Community HealthNet Health Centers worked hard to implement is CenteringPregnancy™. This model provides expecting moms with the care and tools they will need during and after pregnancy, which helps combat the rising infant mortality rate in low-income communities. Take a look at some of the services that are available:

Group Prenatal visits:

  • Assessment of the mom the baby
  • Education of the mom and significant others
  • Support of the mom, the baby and family

Here are the attributes of the GROUP MODEL FOR CENTERINGPREGNANCY™:

  • Initial intake done before mom’s 1st session
  • First group session is usually started when the moms are between 12-16 weeks
  • Groups of 8-12 women, with similar due dates are placed together
  • Moms will do their own weight and blood pressure
  •  An individual physical assessment is done within the group space by the provider
  • 10 Sessions lasting two hours each are facilitated by a group leader
  • 4 Sessions occur every 4 weeks: Months of pregnancy 16, 20, 24, 28
  • 6 Sessions occur every 2 weeks: Months of pregnancy 30, 32, 36, 38, 40, Post Pregnancy
  •  Self-Monitoring
  • Mom checks her own BP
  • Weight is monitored
  • Mom makes notations of the data for her record

In essence, Community HealthNet is empowering moms to monitor their pregnancies to detect any complications early while increasing the likelihood of successful deliveries. We even host community baby showers for expectant mothers!

I am personally alarmed by the rate of infant mortality in our communities and ask that you join me in spreading the word about the pre-natal services available right here in Northwest Indiana and across the country. Don’t let the lack of health care coverage keep you from seeking assistance. Community HealthNet and many others health centers are ready and willing to help because your health (and your baby’s health) matters!

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