Healthy Children by Karen Matthews
Two of the biggest health care challenges in the Delta are preterm births (less than 37 weeks gestation) and low birth weight babies (less than 5.5 pounds). Both preterm birth and low birth weight greatly increase the risk of infant mortality and create other problems that get in the way of healthy children.
To overcome that challenge, the Delta Health Alliance has funded a home visitation program, where trained staff work with targeted women who are at risk of having a preterm birth or a low birth weight baby. Last year, we had over 2,000 home visits in three counties under this program. Of the group in the program, 90% are single moms, 80% are living below the poverty level, and 33% are teenage mothers. But our home visit families are becoming healthier! Here are our results from this past year: preterm births for moms in the program were 13%, much lower than the 22.7% for all similar moms in Mississippi. And the percentage of low birth weight babies among our program participants was only 8.3% compared to 16.4% for all African Americans in Mississippi. This is good news for everyone and shows what a well funded program can do.