2012-11-29 / Living

November Marks Prematurity Awareness

GENESEE COUNTY — Michigan’s infant mortality rate is 17 times higher for premature births than those who are born at full term.

Our state ranks 31st in the nation for premature births, 36th for African-American preterm births in the United States.

November 17, marked World Prematurity Day. Preterm birth (born more than 3 weeks before due date) is a serious health problem and the leading cause of newborn death. Babies who survive may face the risk of lifetime health challenges and lifelong disabilities.

Between the years of 2000-2010, 677 babies died before their first birthday in Genesee County. More than half the infant deaths died due to premature birth and a disproportionate number of infants were African American.

The Genesee County Healthy Start Project supports the Prematurity Awareness Month campaign and the project has worked for over 10 years to reduce infant deaths by addressing risk factors such as prematurity. Healthy Start provides support to African American women and infants with information on healthy pregnancies, encouraging early and continued pre-natal care, and promoting healthy behaviors that can reduce premature birth, low birth weight and infant mortality.

Healthy Start also recommends women who are planning to become pregnant, are pregnant, or recently delivered a baby, try a free texting service for health tips. Women can sign up at: www.text4baby.org or text BABY to 511411 (or BEBE for Spanish).

Details: Visit www.gchd.us/babies. G.G.

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