Initiative to Reduce Infant Mortality


Date: December 6, 2018

Healthy Women, Healthy Families Initiative Seeks to Reduce Infant Mortality in Paterson

The Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey was awarded a grant by the NJ Department of Health to implement innovative strategies that save infant lives, with a special focus on residents of Paterson. The Healthy Women Healthy Families Initiative works to reduce the number of Passaic County and Paterson infants who die before their first birthday.

In Paterson, there were 5.5 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births during 2012-2016. For Passaic County as a whole, the comparable rate was 4.3 deaths for every 1,000 live births.

On December 6, 2018, Paterson Mayor André Sayegh and his wife Farhanna joined the Partnership and their collaborators in celebrating this new Initiative at the Paterson Division of Health, which houses the Partnership’s Paterson offices. Mayor Sayegh has long collaborated with the Partnership to address infant mortality in Paterson.

“There is a huge discrepancy in infant mortality rates in Paterson compared to more affluent communities, and it is completely unacceptable in this day and age,” noted Mayor Andre Sayegh.  “I applaud the work of the Partnership in addressing the need for more education, support, and access to prenatal care in our city.”

“I’m so pleased that we’re able to bring increased services to support the most vulnerable residents of Paterson and Passaic County,” said Ilise Zimmerman, Partnership President & CEO.

At the Paterson Community Health Centers, the Partnership’s Healthy Women Healthy Families Initiative will support a new prenatal care model called Centering Pregnancy. Centering Pregnancy focuses on increasing the amount of time women spend with their healthcare providers, learning about healthy pregnancy, infant development, and the health of their newborn. Groups of women with similar due dates meet in regularly scheduled groups to discuss these topics with a team of healthcare providers. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of group prenatal care models like Centering Pregnancy at reducing infant mortality.

At the New Destiny Family Success Center, the Partnership will support additional outreach workers who identify and support women and families who are not receiving regular healthcare during their pregnancies and beyond. Activities will include assistance with health insurance enrollment, support with barriers to healthcare, and reproductive life planning – a strategy that helps women to make intentional choices about if and when they have a child.

At the Partnership’s offices, additional outreach workers will contribute to the effort. The program will also include breastfeeding support groups aimed at increasing the breastfeeding rate among non-Hispanic Black or African American women, who experience rates of infant mortality more than double that of Hispanic women in Paterson. In 2012-2016 (the most recent data available,) those rates were 8.7 deaths per 1,000 live births among non-Hispanic Black or African American women, compared to 3.7 deaths per 1,000 live births among Hispanic women.

About The Healthy Women, Healthy Families Initiative

Through a system that includes central intake, referrals and community health workers, Healthy Women, Healthy Families will provide preconception, prenatal, interconception and postpartum care and case management services; build partnerships with new, non-traditional community organizations; implement programs to improve pregnancy outcomes in high-risk populations; and address health disparities with the goal of reducing black infant mortality and increasing the number of healthy births. The New Jersey Department of Health funded six community-based grantees that were selected to implement innovative maternal and child programs in 12 regions, covering the entire state and targeting high-risk municipalities.

Download the Press Release.

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