Why is this a public health priority?
According to the March of Dimes, premature birth is a serious and costly problem. Each year more than a half-million babies are born too soon in the United States, costing the nation more than $26 billion annually. Babies who survive an early birth often face lifelong health challenges, including cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss, learning disabilities, and other chronic conditions. Even infants born “late preterm” – between 34 and 36 weeks gestation – have a greater risk of re-hospitalization, breathing problems, feeding difficulties, temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice, delayed brain development and learning problems.
South Carolina is home to a fast-growing Latino population that is young, generally healthy and has a high birth rate. Research has shown that the longer Latinos live in our country, the worse their maternal and child health outcomes get if support is not provided. Already, Latina women in our state have many challenges accessing prenatal care, and they have higher rates of birth defects and pregnancy complications – including preterm labor.
In April the National Center for Health Statistics announced a THREE PERCENT DROP in the national preterm birth rate according to preliminary 2008 data. South Carolina data will be received this month. Watch this space for updates as the data is released.
What is the role of SCPHI in addressing this priority?
Perinatal Awareness for Successful Outcomes (PASOs), a program of SCPHI, is working to prevent preterm births in the Latino community. PASOs works with the South Carolina Latino community to provide culturally appropriate prenatal classes, community outreach and referrals to health resources. The South Carolina Chapter of the March of Dimes participates in the PASOs Advisory Council. Additionally, the SC March of Dimes supports the PASOs model as a best practice intervention focused on Latino maternal and child health in South Carolina.