Success Stories

Florida’s Preconception Health Initiative

Lindsay S. Womack
CDC/CSTE Epidemiology Fellow
MCH Practice and Analysis Unit
Bureau of Family and Community Health
Florida Department of Health, Division of Family Health Services

William M. Sappenfield
State Maternal and Child Health Epidemiologist
Florida Department of Health, Division of Family Health Services 

Kris-Tena Albers
Executive Community Health Nursing Director
Florida Department of Health, Division of Family Health Services 

Florida’s preconception health efforts are the result of step wise innovation over time. Endeavors to improve maternal health began when the state recognized that birth outcomes were no longer improving. Through investigative efforts, preconception health was identified as one of the key strategies to improve the health of mothers and babies. Florida’s initiatives in preconception health are coming of age, with emphasis on both measurement and awareness.

In terms of measurement, Florida created its first preconception health indicator report in 2010 to measure preconception health status, using indicators recommended by a national working group. The report serves to educate health care providers and the public by providing a comprehensive look at the preconception health status among Florida’s women of childbearing age. The report serves as a resource in planning strategies and activities to improve preconception health in Florida. 

To promote awareness about preconception health, Every Woman Florida was implemented to raise awareness about preconception health at the individual, healthcare provider, and health system levels. A social marketing and awareness campaign was launched that included marketing materials and the website, The website serves as an information portal for both healthcare providers and consumers about up-to-date information on preconception health. It also provides health tips, assessment tools, printable patient education handouts, and guidance for providers on the provision of preconception healthcare services.

To further promote awareness among healthcare providers, Florida received a March of Dimes grant in 2010 to fund statewide hospital grand rounds. With the aim of improving preconception health, the grand rounds encourage healthcare providers to screen and educate women of childbearing age at every health care visit. By the end of September 2010, four grand rounds were completed, with Florida fetal-maternal medical specialists serving as speakers for each presentation. The goal of reaching 120 physicians throughout the state has already been exceeded, and more than 350 toolkits focusing on preconception health have been distributed.        

Florida has made great programmatic progress in addressing preconception health, with a focus on improving the health of mothers and babies. Through innovation and perseverance, Florida will further its efforts to make positive changes in preconception health.


Missouri Team Wins for Poster Exhibit

By Jennifer Farmer
Health Educator
Bureau of Genetics and Healthy Childhood
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services 

Missouri is one of six states selected to participate in the Preconception Health for Adolescents initiative with the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP). Missouri’s Team includes the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Adolescent Health and Women’s Health Programs; Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Family and Consumer Sciences Section; young professionals; and the Missouri Foundation for Health. Based on various adolescent health data sources, Missouri chose to focus on CDC’s preconception health recommendation to “develop, evaluate and disseminate age-appropriate educational curricula for use in school health education programs.” The Team initially conducted a needs assessment. Separate student and teacher surveys were created and administered at the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) annual conference in March 2010. There were 517 students and 85 teachers who completed surveys. Results identified the level of interest and learning needs regarding fourteen (14) preconception health-related topics. Survey results indicated that the teachers and students had different priorities regarding health topics that should be taught in school. The top four topics that students identified as very important to learn in school were drug use and misuse, pregnancy, STDs, and sex education. In addition, 75 percent of the students and 26 percent of the teachers did not understand the term “preconception health.” The data collected are being used to identify priorities for updating curriculum and to reframe preconception health and develop messages that resonate with teens. This study demonstrates the importance of partnering with youth to address issues that affect their health.

Jennifer Farmer, Health Educator with Missouri’s Adolescent Health Program represented the Missouri Team and their work through a poster exhibit—Preconception Health Education Needs of School Students and Teachers—at the Missouri Public Health Association Annual Conference in September, 2010. The poster won first place! University students enrolled in public health, health education, and other related fields were invited to exhibit posters to showcase their respective projects. This year, there were nine student posters among the more than 30 posters submitted. Conference attendees who work in local public health agencies were very interested in the preconception health and adolescents project and adapting the student and teacher surveys to assess the adolescent health education needs in their respective schools and communities.