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Doing our part to protect child and maternal health in our community

Doing our part to protect child and maternal health in our community

If you’ve tuned into the news in recent months and years, you may have heard a reference to a “maternal health crisis.” What does that mean?

Sadly, it means that more women are dying both during pregnancy and in the months following pregnancy. Because the maternal mortality rate is rising, there’s a renewed interest in doing all we can to protect moms and their babies.

We’re taking an active role in lowering the maternal mortality rate and protecting infants’ health in our community. Born to care, keep reading to learn what Touro is doing to make a difference.

Defining maternal and child health

Maternal health covers the health of a woman during pregnancy, childbirth and in the months following delivery, known as the postpartum period. Maternal and child health are often grouped together since a mom’s health impacts a baby’s health and vice versa.

Maternal child health is a priority nationwide, for good reason. The American Hospital Association perhaps puts it best: “A commitment to women’s health, healthy pregnancy and a good start for all children is a cornerstone to improving the nation’s health.”

Shining a light on maternal health

Why is maternal health specifically in the news more these days? We mentioned above that maternal deaths have been increasing.

The numbers are startling: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,205 women died of maternal health causes in 2021, compared with 861 in 2020 and 754 in 2019. Of that number, more than 80% were attributed to preventable causes related to pregnancy or sexual and reproductive health.

The risk of maternal death isn’t the same across the board, either. Certain women are at a higher risk, and there’s a known disparity between Caucasian women and women of other racial and ethnic backgrounds. Black, American Indian and Alaska Native women are at the highest risk of pregnancy-related death.

Why is the risk higher for Black women, specifically? Researchers aren’t entirely certain but believe that chronic exposure to stress and the cumulative effects of that stress may play a role. Other chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and mental health issues, also increase the risk of maternal complications.

What we’re doing to make a difference

To improve the health outcomes of women and newborns, it will take a concerted effort on the part of everyone. At Touro, we’re committed to playing a role in improving maternal health outcomes in our community.

We have partnered with Family Connects New Orleans to bring an innovative new program to Orleans Parish. Parents of newborns up to 12 weeks old who gave birth at Touro Hospital or Ochsner Baptist can sign up to receive a cost-free in-home visit from a registered nurse.

For participants, a registered nurse will visit their home around three weeks after delivery. These visits do not take the place of a visit with a pediatrician but are designed to provide an additional touchpoint with a medical expert.

The nurse will also connect the family with health resources for mom and child, as well as provide guidance about caring for and bonding with the infant and how to support parents’ needs. There is tremendous value in these visits.

Research has shown that participants in Family Connects benefit in multiple ways, with a 28% reduction in maternal anxiety and a significantly reduced need for infant emergency medical care for the first year of life. Nearly all families participating in the program receive at least one connection to a community resource or education.

It’s simply one way we can play a part in improving maternal child health in our NOLA community. We’re here for you each and every day.

Expecting a new addition? Trust our team of maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Touro to safely guide you through pregnancy and beyond.