Healthy Start, March of Dimes initiative focuses on last weeks of pregnancy

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.