Low birth weight infants and preterm births are some of the leading factors that contribute significantly to morbidity and infant mortality (Loftin, Habli, Snyder, Cormier, Lewis & DeFranco, 2010). The authors further state that different ethnic and cultural groups experience the problem at different levels, often due to differences in socioeconomic factors, varying behaviors during pregnancy among the different cultures, and varying sociodemographic profiles. Cultural differences during pregnancy (such as approaches to education and health) are major contributors to the differences that the different ethnic and racial groups experience. This problem affects the black communities (and minority communities) more when compared to the white population.
Extremely low birth weight babies has an extremely negative impact on families and communities because such babies often require specialized care, which is often quite costly for many families. Babies born with extremely low birth weights often spend extended periods of time on specialized care because they need ongoing care and constant monitoring, and they often struggle to survive because they have premature vital organs such as the lung and the heart. These make such babies to become quite vulnerable to diseases (such as chronic lung disease, cerebral palsy, and hyperactivity disorder), and may cause financial and emotional stress in families. Such situations also require communities to invest a lot in specialized equipments and health experts, which is quite costly. Low birth weight babies may require special education arrangements, vision/hearing treatment, speech therapy, and physical therapy (The Urban Child Institute, 2017). According to March of Dimes Foundation, the annual cost related with premature birth in the U.S. is $26.2 billion.
Considering the high cost involved in dealing with cases of low birth weight babies, it is critical that professional health organizations develop viable and sustainable solutions to address the problem. Such health programs/initiatives often provide great relief for families and communities because they provide specialized care at affordable costs. More importantly, they provide timely interventions for both prevention and treatment of such health complications. The Florida’s Healthy Start is such an initiative in my community that helps to address the needs of preterm infants and their families. This initiative started in 1991, and it aims at providing universal risk screening for all pregnant women and infants in Florida (FloridaHealth, n.d). The aim is to determine those at risk of developing health complications and providing necessary interventions.
The Healthy Start initiative provides vital services and adequately meets the needs of the Florida population. Through this initiative, the community has been able to save the lives of many pregnant women and premature infants, thereby significantly lowering the infant mortality rates. This initiative not only improves the health and well-being of infant and pregnant women, but also that of families and communities (The National Healthy Start Association Inc., 2015). This initiative adequately meets the needs of my community because it provides public education, helps to increase access to care, promotes community involvement and commitment, provides adequate prenatal care, and promotes positive prenatal health behaviors.
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