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 September/October 2014 - Women's and Infant Health

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By Millie Jones, MPH

I recently saw an interview with Oprah Winfrey talking about her new book entitled What I Know for Sure. It was such a positive, insightful discussion and it started me thinking about what I know for sure. I will spare you some of my more personal insights (I need to keep working on myself!) but I will share my knowing as related to our work in maternal and child health (MCH).[more]


By Lori Tremmel Freeman, BS, MBA
Chief Executive Officer, AMCHP

As I looked over this issue of Pulse and the proposed articles, I was struck by the variety and reach of the work being done by AMCHP, our members and partners in the world of women's and infant health and prenatal/interconception care. In fact, it's not been uncommon to encounter a lot of buzz and energy around many of these initiatives in my travels to meetings with partners and discussions with members... the momentum from one spilling contagiously to another often in wonderful cross-sectored, multi-organizational ways. This is attributable to the sheer passion and persistence of our members and their work. Here are a few examples where I've learned and listened first-hand about the valuable work of these initiatives. [more]



A Framework to Address the Persistent and Complex Issue of Infant Mortality

By Lauren Smith, MD, MPH
Senior Strategic Advisor, Infant Mortality Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network

According to 2010 statistics, 6.15 babies out of every 1,000 born in the United States die before their first birthday. This compares to an average of five babies for all other industrialized nations. Worse still, American minority populations are disproportionately affected with non-Hispanic Black babies dying at twice the rate of non-Hispanic White babies. Efforts to reduce infant mortality and improve birth outcomes have been long underway producing varying levels of effectiveness.[more]


Aligning Practice, Program and Policy to Reduce Infant Mortality: An Update from the BBZ Initiative

By Cheri Pies, MSW, DrPH
Clinical Professor, MCH Program, DrPH Program, MSW/MPH Concurrent and Dual Degree Programs and Principal Investigator, Best Babies Zone Initiative
Shannon Merrell, MPH(c)
Graduate Student Researcher

The Best Babies Zone (BBZ) Initiative, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is a national, multisector place-based initiative working toward improving birth outcomes and reducing infant mortality and preterm birth through community driven strategies that achieve community transformation. We plan to reach these goals on the ground in partnership with community residents and organizational partners by mobilizing community power, engaging the support and collaboration of partners in the education and early care, economic development, and community systems sectors in small geographic areas we call “zones” and working with these organizational partners to achieve collective impact. [more]


Improving Women’s Health Before, Between and Beyond Pregnancy: An Update from the National PCHHC Initiative

By Sarah Verbiest, DrPH, MSW, MPH
CDC Senior Consultant, Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative

The national Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative (PCHHC) is a public-private partnership that began in 2004 with the vision of improving preconception health and pregnancy outcomes in the United States. Two years ago the Initiative launched its National 2012-14 Strategic Plan. While there is still much to be done, there have been several key products developed, largely thanks to the volunteer efforts of many professionals across the country. These include the Show Your Love Campaign for both women who are planning a pregnancy and those who are not. [more]


Understanding Why Maternal Mortality is on the Rise in America: The Case for Learning from Every Maternal Death

By Priya Agrawal, BMBCh, MA, MPH, DFSRH 
Executive Director, Merck for Mothers

In 2013 alone, approximately 1200 women died from pregnancy and childbirth related complications in the United States.  This number has risen sharply over the last two decades. In addition, since 1990, the rate of maternal deaths in this country has more than doubled. The question we must ask ourselves is “why?” [more]


Cesarean Section: A Growing Focus of Maternity Care Quality Improvement

By Carol Sakala, PhD, MSPH
Director of Childbirth Connection Programs, National Partnership for Women & Families

The “Elective Delivery” performance measure was developed to encourage U.S. hospitals to eliminate virtually all scheduled births without indication before 39 weeks’ gestation. There are important opportunities for improvement, and a new Playbook for Successful Elimination of Early Elective Deliveriespoints the way forward. Overall, however, the maternity care community has made exceptional progress on this measure, which gave many in the field experience working on quality improvement. Many groups are turning to a new quality improvement challenge, the overuse of cesarean section in U.S. hospitals. [more]



Preconception Peer Educators Program

By Teddy Owusu
Program Coordinator, Office of Minority Health Resource Center

In May 2007, the Office of Minority Health (OMH), of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched A Healthy Baby Begins with You -- a national campaign to raise awareness about infant mortality -- as one of our efforts to end health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities. The campaign was a huge success and the OMH began receiving requests from all over the country for more events and distribution of materials. [more]


District Launches Stronger2gether Initiative to Reduce Infant Mortality Rate

On Oct. 1, 2014, Mayor Vincent C. Gray and officials from the DC Department of Health (DOH) launched a citywide initiative to reduce the infant mortality rate (IMR) in the District -- Stronger Together -- One City for Healthier Babies. The initiative is a public-private partnership with more than 40 community providers and corporate partners united to improve maternal and child health outcomes throughout the city to address the physical and social determinants of health to reduce preventable infant deaths. [more]


MCH Programs Approaching Critical Crossroads

By Brent Ewig, MHS
Director, Public Policy & Government Affairs, AMCHP

Welcome to fall -- the season of pumpkins, the World Series, and every two years the frenzy of congressional elections. Here is a quick overview of where some key MCH issues stand in the 113th Congress. [more]



Preconception Health and Young Adults with Disabilities

By Teresa Nguyen
Ryan Colburn 2014 Scholarship Recipient

When I turned 18 years old, I headed off to college with many unanswered questions about my future. Logistical ones consisted of (but not limited to): How difficult were my undergraduate courses going to be? How could I make my level of independence compliment my goals? What career was I going to pursue after my four years of college? Of course, the young adult experience isn’t just about education and career pursuit. I also had questions pertaining to my personal life. What would the process of joining a sorority look like for me? What would driving a car look like for someone who is a little person? How many intimate relationships would I have? I found that my concerns weren’t very different from the other freshman on my campus. [more]



Maternal Mortality Review (MMR) and Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review (PAMR) are surveillance systems that help states identify opportunities to improve maternal health. This month, we asked members, “How have findings from your maternal mortality review informed your state efforts to prevent poor maternal outcomes due to chronic health conditions, violence or injury?” Below, we are pleased to feature some of the exciting work taking place in Virginia, Colorado, Alaska, Louisiana and North Carolina to address these important issues. [more]


See a list of new MCH Leaders and AMCHP staff. [more]



Applications open for the 2014-2015 Ryan Colburn Scholarship!
Ryan Colburn was an amazing young man with varied interests ranging from singing in a choir to sports (he was an avid Auburn and Atlanta Braves fan and played the outfield in Miracle League Baseball). He touched the hearts and lives of all he came in contact with his contagious personality and unforgettable smile. Ryan also carried a strong message to the disability community imploring others with disabilities to live life to the fullest. In honor of his life and his affirming message to the disability community, family leader, advocate and AMCHP board member Susan Colburn, in partnership with AMCHP, established the Ryan Colburn Scholarship in 2011 to keep alive the work that Ryan had st