Mississippi has the highest rate of infant mortality in the nation (9.3 infant deaths for 1,000 live births). A health disparity exists between white infants (6.2) and black infants (13.0). This project reports on the effectiveness of a pilot educational program, Healthy Moms and Healthy Babies, which sought to improve knowledge, skills, behavioral intentions and resources related to preventable determinants of infant mortality. A curriculum was developed and piloted with women who were currently pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant or who had an infant <1 year old. Local Head Start Centers offered recruiting assistance and meeting space for the sessions. Six content areas were developed which addressed pre- and postnatal nutrition and physical activity, smoking, breastfeeding, maternal mental health and safe infant sleep. Sixteen objectives were evaluated to determine intervention effectiveness. Participants were very satisfied with the program overall. Fourteen of sixteen objectives were met. Unmet objectives were gaining the skill of interpreting a nutritional label (Objective 75.0%, Observed 71.4%) and being able to name five health benefits of breastfeeding (Objective 85.0%, Observed 81.0%). Future programs will incorporate participant feedback which included allowing more time to learn about interpreting food labels and addressing financial stress. Reducing preterm birth is a national public health priority. Addressing knowledge gaps through risk-reduction education may reduce behaviors associated with determinants of infant mortality such as low birth weight and preterm birth. Head Start Centers are convenient locations that can serve as hubs of education for the entire family. Addressing knowledge gaps through risk-reduction education and providing adequate resources for smoking cessation and lactation support may increase knowledge and skills and reduce behaviors associated with determinants of infant mortality such as low birth weight and preterm birth.
Danielle Fastring, Susan Mayfield-Johnson, Janna Madison