The Florida March of Dimes has awarded the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions (FAHSC) funding to implement a consumer education campaign to increase understanding of the importance of the last weeks of pregnancy and the contribution of this period to healthy infant development and reduced morbidity. The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition will coordinate implementation activities for the three-year effort.
The campaign is aimed at decreasing non-medically indicated deliveries before 39 weeks gestation. The number of elective deliveries between 37 and 39 weeks gestation has increased significantly over the last decade and is associated with increased NICU admissions and infant morbidity, as well as C-section deliveries and late pre-term birth. Despite these risks, many consumers seek elective deliveries late in pregnancy because of misperceptions about what constitutes a term delivery and the perceived safety of delivering after 36 weeks.
The campaign will utilize consumer material and messaging developed by the national March of Dimes, as well as original material developed by FAHSC for Hispanics and fathers. Web-based and social media will be used as primary strategies for reaching 100,000+ women annually. The campaign will be coordinated with the Florida Perinatal Quality Initiative, currently being implemented in seven counties, and a parallel provider education program proposed by the Chiles Center at the University of South Florida. Campaign partners include the Florida Department of Health, major state insurers and experienced social marketing firms, including O. Communications which developed the successful Make a Noise! Make a Difference! awareness and education initiative in Northeast Florida.
The Coalition received funding to establish a Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program under a new federal initiative supporting evidence-based home visiting programs.
One of five projects funded as part of Florida’s Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, NFP will use specially trained nurses to provide intensive, long-term education and support to first-time mothers living in high-risk communities in Jacksonville. The new initiative will be implemented by a multi-agency Healthy Start team from the Duval County Health Department and Shands Jacksonville. The team will focus on families in selected high-risk neighborhoods, including New Town and the surrounding community, the Westside and Arlington. Eligible first-time mothers will be identified through the current Healthy Start screening process and community referrals. Priority will be given to low-income, first-time mothers at highest risk (teens, history of substance abuse or tobacco use, low student achievement), as well as expectant military families at the Naval Hospital Jacksonville. Intensive services will be provided to 100 families annually.
Funding for the state’s MIECHV program was provided as part of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). The intent of the initiative is to equip parents and caregivers with the knowledge, skills and tools to assist their children in being healthy, safe and ready to succeed in school. NFP was one of seven evidence-based models identified in the state plan as eligible for funding and implementation over the next five years.
The highest ranked urban area, Duval County ranked fifth in the state in terms of MIECHV program need based on 11 risk indicators.
Babies born at their full gestational age — 39 weeks — are less likely to die than those born just two weeks earliers, according to a new study.
The study was conducted by the March of Dimes, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and published in the June 2011 edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology. It showed the odds for death more than double for newborns born at 37 weeks versus babies born at 40 weeks of pregnancy. With each additional week of gestation, the chance of death decreases.
Prematurity is a leading cause of infant death. Pre-term birth is considered less than 37 full weeks of pregnancy, but there has been a recent rise in late pre-term births and births in general prior to 39 weeks, in part attributed to scheduled inductions and elective c-sections.
The March of Dimes stresses that an early elective delivery is harmful to a baby and should never be scheduled before 39 or 40 weeks of pregnancy.
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.
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.