Jacksonville Birthing Project receives March of Dimes grant

May 17, 2011  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

The March of Dimes Florida Chapter awarded a $3,000 community grant to the Jacksonville Birthing Project, a Coalition initiative, for the program’s second annual baby shower.

The baby shower is an annual event that includes food, games, raffles and a “Wishing Well.” Attendees do not have to be Birthing Project participants, just women with a child or children from 0-2 years old.

The Jacksonville Birthing Project is a mentoring program for women during pregnancy and for one year after the birth of their children. It is part of the national program, Birthing Project USA, which is the only national African American maternal and child health program in the country.

Volunteers and mentors give friendship, guidance, and support to an expectant mother in need both during and after pregnancy. This includes helping her find a doctor, find and use community resources and make plans for herself and her baby.

Each year, the March of Dimes awards community grants of $3,000 or less to help pursue the mission of preventing birth defects and infant mortality.

Preliminary 2010 stats show continued improvement in infant health

May 10, 2011  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

Provisional state data on births and deaths show another decrease in infant mortality in Northeast Florida for 2010. Between January-December 2010 the region had an infant mortality rate of 7.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 7.9 deaths per 1,000 in the previous year.

Although disparities continued to persist in the region, the gap between birth outcomes among whites and non-whites narrowed slightly in 2010. The infant mortality rate for non-whites was 10.4 deaths per 1,000 live births; for whites, the infant death rate was 5.6 deaths/1,000.

Baker County had the highest infant mortality rate in 2010 in the region, 11.5 deaths per 1,000. Clay County posted the lowest provisional rate, 3.5 deaths per 1,000. Infant deaths rates continued to improve in Duval overall and for all races.

Provisional state data includes births and deaths to residents that occur in Florida. Final rates may change when out-of-state births and deaths are included.

Healthy Start funding cut in final hours of session

  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  2 comments

The 2011-2012 budget passed by the Florida Legislature included a $5.4 million cut in funding for the state Healthy Start program. The last minute reduction was made during final negotiations by the House and Senate Appropriations chairs to bring their respective health & human services budgets into alignment. The cut will eliminate services for more than 20,000 at-risk pregnant women and families statewide.

The impact of the cut on families and Healthy Start agencies in Northeast Florida is yet to be determined. State funding for the program is used as match for federal dollars, meaning additional resources will be lost at the local level. The Florida Department of Health is working to finalize allocations based on the budget adopted by lawmakers.

In other Legislative action, Healthy Start and the MomCare program were included in the final Medicaid reform bill passed early Saturday morning. This preserves Medicaid waiver funding and gives the Healthy Start program an expanded role in ensuring pregnant women have access to the services they need as responsibility for their care is shifted to managed care organizations. The state’s Medicaid Reform proposal still needs to be approved by the federal government and most experts anticipate a lengthy review process prior to implementation.

Coalition staff “March for Babies”

May 9, 2011  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

Coalition members marched over the Acosta and Main Street bridges and through downtown Jacksonville on Saturday in support of some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens: babies born too soon, too small and very sick.

A dozen staff members and Coalition supporters took part in the March of Dimes’ “First Coast March for Babies.”

We raised $1,300, all of which will go to the March of Dimes, a huge supporter and community partner of Healthy Start. They fund the Camellia Project, which aims to improve health knowledge and behaviors and provide support for women who have had a baby in the NICU, to reduce the risk of recurrent poor birth outcomes.

The First Coast walk raised more than $636,000 in total, surpassing their 2011 goal. Funds support research and programs that help moms have full-term pregnancies and babies begin healthy lives.

Thank you to everyone who walked with us and those who donated to this important cause!

Our walkers:

  • Faye Johnson
  • Pam Frennier (and daughter)
  • Michelle Clark (and son)
  • Audrey Hall
  • Erin Petrie
  • Nina Odom
  • Carol Brady (and husband)
  • Jennifer Salah
  • Cathy duPont
  • Juarlyn Smith

Florida Birth Defects Registry report released

May 4, 2011  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

One in 28 babies in Florida are born with a birth defect — which are the leading cause of infant death, according to the latest Florida Birth Defects Registry reported released by the state Department of Health.

The registry report looks at data from 1998-2007. The most common defects include congenital heart defects, cleft lip, gastroschisis, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and congential abnormalities.

While the causes of two-thirds of birth defects are unknown, women can help prevent birth defects by planning their pregnancy and seeing their health care provider prior to becoming pregnant to discuss family history, use of medications or chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes or epilepsy.

Defects of the neural tube and those in the fetal alcohol spectrum can be prevented by taking folic acid prior to and during pregnancy and avoiding alcohol while pregnant.

In 2007, the state DOH received funding to operate and manage this statewide birth defects registry in response to the public’s ongoing concern about birth defects and environmental hazards. For more information on the registry, visit the FBDR Web site.