Orlando’s Florida Hospital opened a human-milk bank May 14, the first of its kind to the area and the second in the state (Miami is home to the first). The bank accepts surplus breast milk from nursing mothers and sends the donated milk to another bank in Denver that processes and redistributes the milk to the country’s at-risk premature babies.
For premature babies, breast milk can be life saving. Breast milk is easier to digest and contains essential nutrients infants need that cannot be replaced by formula. The antibodies and hormones in breast milk are a baby’s first defense against illness and disease — a defense which premature babies are often denied, almost half of mothers to preterm babies are unable to produce an ample supply of breast milk.
Prematurity is one of the leading causes of infant mortality in the United States. In 2012 13.3 percent of babies born in Northeast Florida were born prematurely.
Wolfson Children’s Hospital became the first health care facility in Northeast Florida to provide donated milk to premature babies in its neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The hospital receives milk from two different milk banks that operate under the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. The HMBANA currently serves 39 states in the United States and three provinces in Canada.
More than 40 community-based prenatal and newborn home visitors participated in an interagency N-TOUCH training on May 10 that builds on the latest information about how best to prepare children to learn. Staff from Healthy Start, Nurse Family Partnership, Healthy Families and Early Head Start were in attendance.
N-TOUCH is an evidence-based approach to human potential designed to transfer knowledge of newborn development from published research findings to community-based parent educators to benefit newborns and their families. Participants received training and materials to enhance their work with families in transition to parenting to address the developmental trajectory that begins before birth.
Pathways critical to the development of language, vision, hearing and emotional response — the foundations of all future learning — reach their peak by the child’s first birthday, creating an important “4th trimester.”
The training is part of an N-TOUCH pilot project that was tied in with the release of the Jacksonville Community Council, Inc.’s (JCCI) Children 1-2-3: Early Learning for Future Success report. The project is funded by the Chartrand Foundation and coordinated by Baptist Health. The training was a partnership Baptist Health, the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, the Chartrand Foundation and the Healthy Start Coalition.
The infant mortality rate in Northeast Florida ticked up slightly in 2012 to 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2011, the region’s infant mortality rate was 6.5 deaths per 1,000, its lowest rate in 20 years.
A 30 percent increase in white infant mortality during the last year contributed to the higher rate. In 2011, white infant mortality in the region was 3.5 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 4.6 deaths per 1,000 in 2012. The 2012 rates are more comparable to previous mortality trends in the region and mirror the state rate for this group.
Infant death rates for blacks and others improved between 2011 and 2012. The nonwhite infant mortality rate was 11.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012, compared to 12.3 deaths per 1,000 in 2011. Three counties — Baker, Nassau and St. Johns— reported no black infant deaths in 2012.
Despite improvements in 2012, Baker County continued to have the highest infant death rate in the region (8.8 deaths per 1,000 live births), while St. Johns County posted the area’s lowest rate (1.6 deaths per 1,000 live births).
Florida’s infant mortality rate decreased again from 6.4 in 2011 to 6.0 in 2012 per 1,000 live births, marking a new low. Black infant mortality rates decreased from 12.0 in 2011 to 10.7 in 2012, an historic low. The white infant mortality rate decreased from 4.9 in 2010 to 4.6 in 2011 and remained at 4.6 in 2012.
Outgoing Coalition Executive Director Carol Brady has been featured in the “Faces of FIMR” spotlight in the National Fetal & Infant Mortality Review Spring 2013 newsletter.
The article highlights how using the FIMR process in Northeast Florida has shaped how the Coalition addresses poor birth outcomes and infant mortality. FIMR examines cases with the worst outcomes to identify gaps in maternal and infant services and to promote future improvements. The Coalition began the review in 1995 and has continued to carry it out with funding from the Florida Department of Health.
In the article, Ms. Brady discusses how the FIMR process guided the Coalition into adopting the life-course approach and helped lead to the development of the Magnolia Project.
For more information on the FIMR process, visit the NFIMR website.