Statewide coalition to work on reducing preterm births and infant mortality
January 31, 2013 William Gerrish
Hartford - The National Governors Association (NGA) recently selected Connecticut and three other states to participate in its Learning Network on Improving Birth Outcomes. The Learning Network is designed to assist states in developing, implementing and aligning their key policies and initiatives related to improving birth outcomes.
The NGA will hold in-state sessions with the selected states and convene a networking conference for the states to share lessons learned and further their respective planning processes.
"Many states have started working on initiatives that will improve birth outcomes," said NGA Executive Director Dan Crippen. "The focus of this Learning Network will be to align existing programs and to help states take advantage of new initiatives that can further their goals in this area."
The Department of Public Health has established a five-member core team with representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Departments of Public Health and Social Services, and the Connecticut March of Dimes to work with the NGA to establish a statewide coalition of state and local agencies to improve birth outcomes, especially within the state’s minority racial and ethnic communities.
Health officials noted that preterm births occur in the Black/African American community at a rate 1.5 times higher than that in the White/Caucasian community, and that this disparity has not significantly changed in the last 10 years.
“Participation in the Learning Network will help Connecticut achieve a recent challenge among State and Territorial Health Officers to reduce preterm births by 8% by 2014, as well as our goal to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in early preterm births,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “Through this unique opportunity with the NGA, we expect to learn effective strategies and best practices for coordinating activities across agencies and accelerate the pace of improving birth outcomes and reducing newborn hospitalization costs.”
The initiative is part of the Alliance for Information on Maternal and Child Health Services (AIM). AIM is sponsored by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of Health Resources and Services Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Connecticut’s participation in this initiative builds on recent previous activities conducted within DPH, including selection to participate in an Action Learning Collaborative on the effects of racism on birth outcomes, as well as a training program called the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health on the topic of maternal and infant health.