August 10, 2009

SENATOR CARDIN, REP. CUMMINGS TOUR BALTIMORE CITY'S HEALTHY START PROGRAM

Healthy Start is credited with reducing infant mortality

BALTIMORE - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) and U.S. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7) today visited Baltimore City's Healthy Start program to hear about its success in reducing low birth rates, a leading cause of infant mortality.   The Senator and Congressman also met with mothers and their babies to hear how Healthy Start has helped them and their children.

 

"Infant mortality and low-birth weights are linked.   Healthy Start has been successful in reducing infant mortality because it works with mothers in helping them understand the importance of good nutrition and health care during pregnancy," said Senator Cardin.   "It is the success of programs like Healthy Start that we need to build on as we look at health care reform."

 

"Healthy Start is making invaluable contributions to our community by ensuring that children have healthy support systems in place before they are even born. I often say that our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see, and because of organizations like Healthy Start, we can be sure that these messages reach their destination," said Congressman Cummings.

The infant mortality rate is an important measure of the well-being of infants, children, and pregnant women because it is associated with a variety of factors, such as maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and public health practices.   In 2003 (most recent data available), Healthy Start clients experienced low birth weights at a rate of 8.9 percent compared to Baltimore City's overall rate of 13.8 percent.  

Healthy Start has provided service to more than 12,000 pregnant and post-partum women and their families since 1991.   Children born with very low birth weights (VLBW) are at greatest risk for death and other health problems.   Within Baltimore City's African-American community, 3.8 percent are VLBW babies while the VLBW rate for white babies is 1.5%.  Healthy Start participants have a VLBW rate of .9%

Not only are these results yielding healthier lives for children, they are also impacting the Maryland and federal budgets, which are estimated to have saved more than $5.5 million since Baltimore City Healthy Start's inception, and continue to save more than $700,000 a year in reduced Medicaid infant hospitalization costs.

--##--