Education and support: Key essentials for successful breastfeeding

Jul 12, 2017  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

The Healthy Start Coalition has launched new opportunities for mothers and babies to get the support and education they need to successfully breastfeed. Breastfeeding is beneficial for baby and mom, promoting bonding between mother and baby, potentially leading to weight loss for mom and giving baby good IMG_2151 bwnutrients to help build their immune system.

The Coalition hosts weekly community breastfeeding support groups at several locations throughout

Classes will soon be offered at the Highlander Apartments community.

Participants are encouraged to set their own breastfeeding goals and receive help and support to reach them. At the end of the course, the participants reflect on their goals to see how well they did. The participants also discuss new topics weekly from an evidence-based curriculum, are encouraged to share their stories with their peers and are offered one-on-one breastfeeding care.

In addition to offering breastfeeding education and services in the community, the Coalition also hosts groups at three Duval County Public Schools high schools that now have breastfeeding stations for students, faculty and staff to utilize: Englewood, A. Phillip Randolph and William Raines.

“Students love that they have a comfortable and private place to pump, store their milk and access to breast pads and storage bags” according to Coalition Breastfeeding Outreach Coordinator Denise Mills.

If you are interested in establishing a breastfeeding support group or attending a group, contact Denise at 904.258.4523 or

Fighting the bite: Protection against the Zika virus

May 25, 2017  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

Although it may seem like the risk has passed, women who are pregnant or hope to become pregnant and their partners should be wary about the Zika virus and the serious birth defects it can cause. While the risk of defects from Zika is relatively small according to a new report, it is still important for women and their partners to protect themselves from the virus.

The Zika virus, which is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, could be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and lead to birth defects like microcephaly and other complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Last year, there were 51 babies born with Zika-related birth defects in the United States. Nearly 1,300 pregnant women, in 44 states, had laboratory evidence of a Zika virus infection in 2016. Around 970 of those women have completed their pregnancies. Overall, the risk of severe birth defects was about five percent among women who were infected with Zika during pregnancy and rose to 15 percent of those who were infected during their first trimester, according to the new article. While there has been no confirmed local transmission of Zika in Northeast Florida, protective actions against mosquito bites can prevent Zika.

There are local efforts in place to address Zika in Northeast Florida. The Florida Department of Health Duval (FDOH Duval) has launched a Zika task force to make sure that the proper safety measures are being taken to protect the community against the harms Zika can cause. Partners of the task force includes the CDC, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the local county mosquito control office. FDOH Duval, as well as the surrounding counties, has also put together a prevention package which includes three insect-repellent towelettes, a male contraceptive and literature on Zika and protective measures. The Coalition will also be distributing Zika prevention packages through its MomCare, Azalea, Healthy Start and Healthy Families Jacksonville programs and at community events.

As there is currently no vaccine for the Zika virus, the CDC strongly recommends taking the following protective actions to prevent the transmission.


  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin or buy pre-treated items.

Insect repellent: 

  • Repellents that contain Deet are the most effective during pregnancy
  • Picaridin is an alternative repellent that is safe to use during pregnancy
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than three-years-old.
  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than two-months old.

Sexual transmission 

  • Prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex.

Many people affected with Zika will have mild symptoms or none at all. Symptoms could include a fever, rash, joint pain, headache or conjunctivitis (red eyes). If you have experienced any of the symptoms and have been to a region where the Zika virus is present, it is recommended that you visit a physician or healthcare provider and request testing.

To get more information about the Zika virus and possible ways of prevention, visit:


Florida Department of Health

March of Dimes


Healthy Start Coalition celebrates 25th anniversary

May 15, 2017  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

For the past 25 years, the Coalition has led a cooperative community effort to reduce infant mortality and improve the health of children, childbearing women and their families in Northeast Florida.

In these 25 IMG_3657years, the Coalition has provided services to more than 200,000 families living in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties, and we continue to grow.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Healthy Start and the healthy start coalitions, the Coalition hosted community partners and friends at an open house event to display our renovated office space and to launch our Mother’s and Father’s Day Campaign. It takes a village to raise a child and this Mother’s and Father’s Day you can support giving every baby, every day a healthy start at life by donating to the Coalition.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support the work that the Coalition does. We look forward to another 25 years of service!

Check out images from our 25th anniversary below!

Baby on board: Car seat safety and other useful tips

May 5, 2017  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

Car safety for can mean life or death for babies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. In 2015, 663 children ages 12 and under died due to motor vehicle crashes and more than 121,350 were injured in 2014. Of the children who died in crashes in 2015, 35 percent were not buckled up.

Between 2012-2014 there were 47 non-fatal motor vehicle-related injuries sustained by children one to five years old in Duval County alone, which was the fourth highest in the state of Florida.

Motor vehicle deaths and injuries among children tend to increase during the summer months because more drivers are on the road. But these deaths and injuries can be prevented by buckling children up in their respective car seat, booster chair or seat belts and using them correctly. Car seat usage reduces the risk of death to infants by 71 percent, according to the CDC.  Booster seats, when used correctly, can reduce the risk of injury by 45 percent children aged four to eight years old.bob

Car seats should also be registered in case of a recall on the car seat. Car seats can be registered by visiting Parents Central.

For best protection, the following guidelines should be followed.

  • Birth up to age two, or until the weight and height limits are reached: Children should be buckled in a rear-facing seat
  • Age two up to age five, or until the weight and height limits are reached: Children should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat
  • Age five until seat belt properly fits: Children should be buckled into a booster seat
  • Once the seat belt fits properly: Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt lays across the chest.

To ensure that children are safe in their car seats, it is recommended that parents/caregivers schedule an appointment for a free car-seat inspection.

For more information:

AAP Recommendations

Florida Car Seat Law

Back to sleep, tummy to play

Apr 10, 2017  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  2 comments

Tummy time is an essential part of a child’s development. Tummy time is the time when baby is placed on their stomach, while they are awake and supervised.

Tummy time helps baby develop strong head, neck and shoulder muscles, and promotes certain shutterstock_87274753motor skills, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH). Tummy time can also reduce the risk of baby’s head becoming flattened. Tummy time is also encouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

It is strongly recommended that babies sleep alone, on their backs and in a crib for bedtime and naps. But during times when baby is awake, tummy time is critical for a child’s growth.

Tummy time should take place on a flat, ground level surface, on top of a blanket or something soft. Putting a toy or a colorful object in front of baby during tummy time can help them interact with their surrounds and encourage movement. As baby gets older, tummy time can extend and become more frequent.

For more information on tummy time check out the links below.

Different ways to do tummy time

Tummy Time Tips

Infant and Toddler Safety

Remember, back to sleep, tummy to play!