Campaign stresses need for prenatal care

May 5, 2016

This Week News: Campaign stresses need for prenatal care

By: Gary Seman

January 26, 2016

With an ongoing goal of reducing infant mortality rates in central Ohio, Celebrate One is working on an initiative that will provide pregnant women with prenatal care information and patient referral services.

Celebrate One is an organization run by an executive committee responsible for coordinating and supporting implementation of the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force Plan.

Set for a full launch in March, Step One is a program initiative to offer a network of healthcare resources, access to transportation, language interpretation services and links to insurance providers.

“We know the earlier a woman enters prenatal care, the more successful her pregnancy will be and it will improve birth outcome,” said Liane Egle, director of Celebrate One.

Step One, with a $200,000 budget funded by the four local hospital systems, will begin a full-fledged broad-based media campaign, including advertising and social media, in March.

It will be mostly aimed at women on Medicaid and those without insurance, Egle said.

There are about 19,000 children born in Franklin County each year and about half of them are born to women on Medicaid, Egle said.

There are many challenges associated with pregnancy, particularly for women who haven’t sought prenatal care or whose first language isn’t English, Egle said. Many providers won’t accept uninsured women or those on Medicaid, and not all providers will accept women late in their pregnancies, she said.

“It’s difficult for a woman to sort all of that out,” she said.

The Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force, formed in early 2014, pointed out some dreary statistics regarding the issue:

* On average, three babies a week die before their first birthday in Franklin County.

* Black babies are 2.5 times more likely than white babies to die before they reach their first birthday.

One objective of the group is to cut the racial disparity by 40 percent over 10 years.

Drivers of infant mortality are many and include babies being born too soon or small, unsafe sleep conditions, smoking in the houseold, birth defects and social and economic conditions, Egle said.

Jeff Klingler, president and CEO for the Central Ohio Hospital Council, said early intervention for pregnant mothers can’t be stressed enough.

“I don’t think there’s one silver bullet that will lower the (infant mortality) rate, but certain entry into prenatal care is among our top priorities,” Klingler said.