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Healthy start

Health department to form infant mortality stakeholder committee

Jesse Hollett
Posted 8/31/16

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Healthy Start Program plans to form a stakeholder committee to help in the continued fight against infant and fetal mortality.

The committee, an outgrowth of the Infant …

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Healthy start

Health department to form infant mortality stakeholder committee


Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Healthy Start Program plans to form a stakeholder committee to help in the continued fight against infant and fetal mortality.

The committee, an outgrowth of the Infant Mortality Task Force, will focus on incorporating countywide action plans regarding the most pressing causes of pediatric fatality.

The Clay County Infant Mortality Task Force already meets monthly to improve birth outcomes through education and plan creation, but a committee of stakeholders and community leaders could improve productivity, buy-in and get more interested parties involved.

“They’re getting their partners together to develop the health messages and materials,” said Patricia Cepeda, community health director with DOH. “They’re going to talk about obesity, [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome], smoking cessation and access to prenatal care and continuity of prenatal care during pregnancy.”

The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition provides services to at-risk women in its service area – Clay, Duval, Nassau, Baker and St. Johns Counties. Although a definite date isn’t set, the coalition’s board will meet in October for Project Impact, where they will review data they’ve collected on fetal and infant mortality rate and develop strategies for next year.

Most risk factors for infant and fetal death remain preventable, such as obesity and smoking, both on an upward trend in Clay County. In 2014, obesity during pregnancy accounted for 23.9 out of every 1,000 births in Clay County, more than two points above the state average.

“Here in Clay, compared to the other five county areas, very high rate of smoking among moms,” Cepeda said. “It’s a high stress time in their lives, especially if someone in the house is smoking, real hard. If all the communities come together, we have a consistent message, then maybe we can help her work her way through that.”

Smoking cessation programs put a dent in mothers who smoke during pregnancy, Cepeda said, through the continued partnership of Healthy Start Programs and leaders across counties.

Some risk factors, however, are often times beyond a parent’s control. With 15 percent of Clay County adults living without health insurance, access to prenatal care and continuity of care continue to drag down rates across Florida. Access to transportation and adequate health insurance remain roadblocks to raising the rate of adequate prenatal care regardless of race or ethnicity.

Each county is required to assess the data involving infant mortality for a 10-year period as a means of devising what aspects of the healthcare system need to improve in the future to lower deaths with countywide Healthy Start Programs.

Of course, each county is different and initiatives can vary wildly from county to county based on specific challenges and resources.

For instance, “The major difference between” Clay and Duval is Jacksonville’s concentrated “Urban core,” absent in Clay, said Tracy Claveau, fetal and infant mortality review manager with the Healthy Start Coalition. However, that’s not to say the problems associated with a concentrated urban core – such as racial disparity and poverty – are absent in Clay, she added.

Overall, Clay’s infant death rate was 6.2 in 2014, slightly above Florida’s infant death rate at 6.0. A percentage point accounts for one infant death out of 1,000. Rates dropped last year to 4.8.

“When we talk about different communities, Clay has a very active and very involved Healthy Start Program, as does Duval, but you just run into more challenges in the urban core such as poverty and racial disparity,” Claveau said.

Duval’s rates are over two points above Clay. Likewise, Duval’s fetal death rate was nearly five points higher.

A disparity continues to present itself with low birth-weight among black births. Black mothers are also more likely to receive inadequate prenatal care during the first trimester.

Alternatively, SUIDS cases among white infants is higher than other races. Rates in Clay County spiked in 2014 to 1.9, up nearly a point from last year.

“At this particular time, one of the biggest [initiatives] is decreasing the sleeping infant death rate we have here in Northeast Florida,” Claveau said.

To reduce the risk of SUIDS, mothers can remove items in the crib. Officials say consistent messages among care providers is key in educating mothers-to-be about crib death.

Although the coalition has only set a tentative date, the board will meet in October for Project Impact, to discuss new findings and identify new initiatives across the counties to try to stamp out pediatric death in Northeast Florida.