Missouri Bootheel Healthy Start (MBHS) has been linking women and families to the services in five Bootheel counties for 21 years and is highlighting Infant Mortality Awareness Month this September in order to continue to help babies grow and thrive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the death of a baby before his or her first birthday as infant mortality. Unfortunately, 23,161 infants died during 2016 in the United States. Sadly,490 babies died in Missouri, and among the African American community Missouri had an Infant Mortality rate of 13.2. This is over 2.4 times the national average. The loss of a baby remains a sad reality for many parents in our area and takes a serious toll on the health and well-being of families.
Missouri Bootheel Healthy Start, a program of Healthy Start, focuses on impacting the health of women, infants, children in the first two years of life, and their families by providing access to and education around health services and reproductive life planning. MBHS supports women before, during, and after pregnancy by addressing their health and social service needs, strengthening family resilience, and engaging community partners to enhance systems of care.
Pregnancy and childbirth have a huge effect on the health of women and their families. Pregnancy-related health outcomes are influenced by factors such as race, ethnicity, age, and income, but most importantly—a woman’s health. Good preconception (before pregnancy) health and care means living a safe, healthy lifestyle and managing any current health conditions before getting pregnant. MBHS is committed to providing education and support to pregnant women and mothers throughout the Bootheel to help ensure the best possible outcomes.
“When thinking about the Healthy Start program and providing education, I often like to say ‘Give a mother a fish you feed her for a day, Teach her to fish you feed her for a lifetime’,” says Audrey Johnson, Case Management Supervisor for MBHS. “Therefore providing education to mothers on the importance of a healthy lifestyle to have a healthy pregnancy, benefits of breastfeeding, pregnancy spacing, etc., may help reduce the infant mortality rate in our area.”
MBHS will be holding the 21st Annual Infant Mortality Workshop on September, 21st at the Miner Convention Center. Speakers from around the region and country will be presenting on current issues in maternal and infant health. Attendance is free and lunch will be provided.