Healthier Moms and Babies’ goal is to reduce infant mortality and improve the outcome of pregnancy in Allen County by offering health education and case management services to low-income, high-risk pregnant women and their families
WHY THIS IS NEEDED
According to the Indiana State Department of Health Natality Report for 2013, 5,080 babies were born in Allen County. Of those, 10.2% were born preterm, 8.9% were born low-birth weight, and 8.8% of pregnant women smoked and 49.4 % began prenatal care in the first trimester. Allen County ranks significantly lower than other Indiana Counties for women not starting prenatal care during their first trimester. According to the Allen County Health Department 2013 Annual Report, 3 babies died from sleep related causes and 26 babies died from complications of prematurity. Of the deaths, 34 babies were under the age of 29 days and 18 babies died between the ages of 29 days to one year. According to Stats Indiana, the infant mortality rate in Allen County is the thirteenth highest in the state. The Allen County infant mortality rate of 8.7% is higher than the Indiana rate of 7.1%. Babies born before the 38th week of pregnancy are considered preterm, and are at higher risk for problems eating, breathing, and maintaining body temperature. The earlier the baby is born, the more problems the baby could have with a greater probability those problems could persist throughout his/her life. In many cases, if the mother recognized her signs of preterm labor and sought medical assistance early enough, the greater the chance that the delivery could be forestalled for days, weeks and sometimes a month or two.
Preterm deliveries are one of the leading causes of infant mortality. Another cause of infant mortality is SIDS and deaths from unsafe sleep environments. Unsafe sleep environments, such as babies sleeping in adult beds with adults, on sofas or in their own beds with crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and toys are entirely preventable.
The Healthier Beginnings Fetal Infant Mortality Study was conducted from 1995-1997 in Allen County, and found some very preventable contributing factors. Among the most disturbing were 1) women encountered barriers to prenatal care, 2) they did not recognize signs of preterm labor and warning signs in pregnancy and 3) families were unfamiliar with SIDS prevention measures. Some women did not know they were eligible for Medicaid or were unaware of resources for sliding fee prenatal care. Others mistook symptoms they should have reported to their primary care provider as normal discomforts of pregnancy.
In 1996, St. Joseph Medical Center received a grant from the Indiana State Department of Health for a demonstration project to address the causes of infant mortality. This was the beginning of Healthier Moms and Babies. In August 1997, with the impending sale of the hospital, Healthier Moms and Babies was transferred to the Fort Wayne Medical Education Program, which is itself under the umbrella of the Fort Wayne Medical Society Foundation and where it remains today. Since that time, St. Joseph Hospital has continued to provide office space for Healthier Moms and Babies as an in-kind service.
Healthier Moms and Babies is a self-supporting program of the Fort Wayne Medical Education Program. The Fort Wayne Medical Society Foundation holds the 501 c 3 status for Fort Wayne Medical Education Program and Healthier Moms and Babies. The Fort Wayne Medical Education Program handles accounts receivable and payable, payroll, provides liability and IT coverage, refers potential clients and provides oversight. The Fort Wayne Medical Society Foundation shares its postal permit with Healthier Moms and Babies.