November 2008

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From the President

Prematurity and Preconception Care

By Nan Streeter, MS, RN

We all know that premature births are on the rise in spite of technological and pharmaceutical advances in the field. We have worked hard to promote the importance of prenatal care to assure healthy outcomes for mothers and their newborns. However, it is clear that prenatal care is too late to prevent poor pregnancy outcomes like prematurity. Instead, we need to redirect our efforts to promote and assure that women of childbearing ages receive preconception health care BEFORE conception. [read more]


From the CEO

Transition Time

By Mike R. Fraser, PhD

It is hard to describe the mood in Washington this week but there is definitely something different in the air. The election of our nation’s first African American president brings excitement, a sense of possibility, and yes even elation to what is usually a very staid, suit-and-tie, tradition-bound city. Riding the subway to work the morning after the election was like attending a party on wheels – people were talking, sharing their newspapers, reflecting on the importance of what just happened and normally reserved Washingtonians looked at each other and smiled. [read more]


Get Involved

Online Registration Now Available!
Register today online to attend AMCHP’s Annual Conference to convene on February 21-25, 2009, in Washington, DC.

AMCHP February Board Meeting
The next AMCHP Board Meeting will be held during our Annual Conference on Saturday, February 21 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Additional information will be provided in the coming weeks. Board Members who will be attending should RSVP to Nora Lam or call (202) 775-0436.

AMCHP Business Meeting
All members, partners and staff are invited to attend a business meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. during our Annual Conference.


Member to Member

We asked two members the following question: In your opinion, where do you see the greatest opportunities in making a difference on prematurity in the U.S.? [read more]



March of Dimes: Prematurity Awareness Month

By Phyllis Williams-Thompson

One in eight babies is born prematurely. Millions of these children face serious health challenges or have trouble learning in school because they were born too soon. Even the best of care can’t always spare a premature baby from lasting disabilities. And premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death in the United States. Prematurity is a complicated and difficult public health problem. Like heart disease, diabetes or cancer, it will take many years to achieve significant impact, but there has been, and will be progress along the way. The March of Dimes, as the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, is leading the way in finding solutions to the problems that threaten babies. [read more]

Advancing Public Health Surveillance, Practice, and Training to Improve Preconception Health

By Kay Johnson, MPH, EdM

Last month, CDC reported that, while data from the preliminary mortality file suggest a two percent decline in the infant mortality rate from 2005 to 2006, the U.S. infant mortality rate did not decline significantly overall or for any race/ethnicity group from 2000 to 2005 – meaning that disparities by race and ethnicity persisted. (MacDorman and Mathews, 2008) This is one indicator of the need for preconception health and health care, of the need for attention to women’s health beyond prenatal care. [read more]


Policy and Finance Strategies to Promote Preconception Health and Health Care

By Kay Johnson, MPH, EdM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made recommendations for improving preconception health and health care aimed at achieving four goals (Johnson et al., 2006). These recommendations recognized the importance of policy and finance changes. In 2007, a Policy and Finance Workgroup — representing an array of organizations including professional associations, academic institutions, and government agencies — was launched to support implementation of these recommendations. [read more]


AMCHP’s New Initiative: Preconception Care and Adolescent Women

By Stacey Cunningham, Associate Director for Women’s and Infant Health, AMCHP and Sharron Corle, Associate Director for Adolescent Health, AMCHP

There is increasing emphasis on preconception care in the maternal and child health community. What does this mean, however, for adolescent women – for whom we’ve been so actively trying to prevent conception? Furthermore, health habits initiated during adolescence can have a great impact on future health – and future pregnancy outcomes. Risk behaviors such as use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs contribute potential threats to the health of young women. [read more]


Success Stories

By Janice M. Smiley, MSN, RN

The Alabama Department of Public Health, State Perinatal Program (SPP) provides and initiates activities to strengthen the perinatal health care system throughout the state. Provider education is one initiative the program utilizes to enhance perinatal health. The program provides outreach education for physicians and their office staff with the support of the March of Dimes. [read more]

By Mary Jo Chippendale, MS, PHN

Minnesota has one of the nation’s lowest infant mortality rates for the overall population (4.8 deaths per 1,000 live births for 2003-2005). The rate masks racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality for African American and American Indian families whose infant mortality rates are 8.7 and 8.6, respectively, for the same period. Eliminating disparities in birth outcomes is a state priority identified by our 2005 MCH Needs Assessment. [read more]

By Juanita Graham, MSN RN

The Mississippi State Department of Health continues to rank infant mortality as the Agency’s highest priority. Mississippi has experienced little change in infant mortality over the past decade. The 2007 infant mortality rate was 10.1 per 1,000 live births. This rate is slightly lower than the two prior years but there continues to be a high proportion of infant deaths related to low birthweight and premature birth. [read more]

Spaces of Hope in Harlem
By Julius Dasmariñas

Spaces created for human use and consumption known as the built environment can have debilitating impact on the health of marginal and vulnerable populations. In low-income neighborhoods where parks and sidewalks are unsafe, groceries lack healthier food options, and housing is decrepit, residents are observed to suffer more from obesity, depression, violent behavior, and poor birth outcomes. Add racism into the mix and the consequences could be worse. [read more]


View from Washington

Change is in the Air
By Brent Ewig, MHA

Major change is coming to Congress, the White House and the nation! Regardless of your political affiliation, the election results reflect a strong desire among voters for a new direction. It is our hope that this direction will include renewed support for MCH, and we want to share several actions AMCHP is taking to adapt our strategies to the new political landscape in Washington to better advocate on your behalf. [read more]


Data and Trends

See the percentage of mothers beginning prenatal care in the first trimester; data on preterm birth; and data on preterm by race and ethnicity. [read more]


Resource Bank

See the array of resources on prematurity and preconception care. [read more]


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