Lowndes fights infant mortality - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lowndes fights infant mortality

April 23, 2008

Valdosta - Health officials in Lowndes County say fighting the infant mortality rate is an uphill battle.

In 2004, the county had a 16% mortality rate, that's double the state average.

While that number has fallen to 11%, they are hoping to decrease it even more.

For nine months, Heather Carter worked hard to ensure that her daughter would be born healthy.  "Taking the medicines, iron pills, going to all my appointments to make sure everything was fine."

At 8 pounds, 15 ounces, newborn Khloe is definitely that. 

And while the prenatal steps to get her there may seem small, the South Health District says they can literally be the difference between life and death...because they are battling the infant mortality rate every day.

"Our infant mortality rate is 11% which is better but still higher than the state average," says Elise Napier of the SHD.

So they started project Baby LUV, a program that will identify pregnant women with high risk conditions  "Women that are having problems with other chronic disease problems like hypertension, diabetes, even morbid obesity," Napier says.

And work to keep them healthy through all three trimesters.  "If we can target those things early in the pregnancy, educate those women, provide intensive case management and follow-up, get them into services they may need, whether it be substance abuse or behavioral health services early, that we can curtail poor birth outcome," Napier says.

Carter agrees.  "Do everything you can because even the smallest thing, that may not even be in your control, could happen."

Holding baby Khloe is a special moment for Heather. And the health district hopes their new program will help all moms-to-be share one too.

The program, created by a grant from the March of Dimes, has a goal to lower the infant mortality rate 20% by 2010.


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