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Houston Healthcare Partners with the March of Dimes for Healthier Babies Central Georgia Healthy Babies – Worth the Wait

April 11, 2016- Houston Healthcare has received a grant from the March of Dimes to decrease the incidence of babies born too soon in the Central Georgia area. The March of Dimes reports that every year in the United States, nearly half a million babies are born too soon, more than 16,000 of them right here in Georgia. The 2015 Premature Birth Report Card for the State of Georgia is a “D” because the rate of preterm birth continues to be high with 10.8 percent of babies born before 37 weeks gestation.

The Central Georgia area is similar to Georgia in the risk identified for preterm births. Houston Healthcare completed a Community Health Needs Assessment in November 2014. Some of the data showed 16.7 percent of pregnant women in our area did not receive prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy, which is higher than the state and national rate. It was also noted that 18.8 percent of women of child bearing age currently smoke. In addition to these risk factors, a number of the women also have medical risk such as diabetes or hypertension which requires additional monitoring during pregnancy. Added to this is the need for linking women without insurance to prenatal care.

Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and others. Even infants born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. The last few weeks of pregnancy are critical to a baby because many important organs, including the brain, are not completely developed until then.

There are known strategies that can lower the risk of an early birth, such as smoking cessation, preconception care, early prenatal care, progesterone treatments for women with a history of preterm birth, and avoiding unnecessary C-sections and inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy.

The Central Georgia project is based on the March of Dimes Healthy Babies – Worth the Wait evidence based program. The project includes efforts to increase awareness of healthy pregnancy practices through community outreach, additional assistance and resources for women identified with a higher risk pregnancy, and a seminar for continuing education for health care workers. “This project is needed in our Central Georgia community,” says Beth Jones, Director of Community Education and Services for Houston Healthcare. “We appreciate the March of Dimes providing support, as well as guidance, on proven methods to address this serious health concern. Improving the health of women and newborns is a high priority.”

What resources are available locally?

Efforts to improve the birth outcomes are currently in place. A Perinatal Coalition, formed by Houston Healthcare and with community agencies actively participating, meets bi-monthly to improve the care of all pregnant women in our community. Houston Healthcare also offers a free gestational diabetes program for pregnant women with diabetes or elevated blood sugar, as well as a Hypertension Management program. In addition, there are several pregnancy related classes available at no cost through the EduCare Department at Houston Healthcare. Lastly, the Houston County Health Department is an additional resource to serve pregnant women with limited income and without insurance.

For more information on the project or on pregnancy related classes, please contact Houston Healthcare’s Community Education Department at (478) 923-9771.

Houston Medical Center
1601 Watson Boulevard
Warner Robins, Georgia 31093
Telephone: (478) 922-4281


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Perry Hospital
1120 Morningside Drive
Perry, Georgia 31069
Telephone: (478) 987-3600

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