Friday, October 7, 2016

Recommendations to Reduce Premature Births and Deaths

Premature birth is the leading cause of infant death in Colorado, accounting for 38 percent of infant deaths each year and contributing to lifelong problems in health and development among surviving “preemies.” Although Colorado infant death rates have been declining for 30 years, they remain three times higher among African-Americans than whites, Hispanics or Asians. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the March of Dimes   released “Recommendations to Reduce Preterm Births in Colorado,” prepared by a work group of public health experts, university researchers and health care providers from across Colorado.

The publication, released in conjunction with September’s National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, provides 11 core recommendations for community groups, health care providers and policy makers. In alignment with national, evidence-based guidelines, the recommendations focus on:

  • Access to services.
  • Preventive care. 
  • Planned pregnancy. 
  • Assisted reproductive technology. 
  • Medical interventions. 
  • Mental health promotion. 
  • Avoidance of substance use, including tobacco. 
  • Innovative uses of technology. 

“While we’ve made progress in reducing the health impacts of premature birth, there are still too many babies born too soon,” said Karen Trierweiler, deputy director of the Prevention Services Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We need to recognize the causes of premature birth and work together to give all babies a healthier start in Colorado.”

Because the causes of and solutions to preterm birth are complex, the guidelines highlight strategies that can be employed, ideally in coordination, by all who have a role in reducing preterm birth: pregnant women, health care providers, policymakers, advocates, public health professionals and other community service and support programs.

About 25,000 infants die each year nationwide, leaving the United States with one of the worst infant mortality rates in the world, ranking 131st among 184 countries. Colorado averages 400 infant deaths per year. Reducing premature births would significantly reduce the number of infant deaths in Colorado and nationwide.

Jefferson County Public Health Home Visitation programs work to help moms and babies be as healthy as they can be:

Nurse Family Partnership: A free, voluntary, nurse home visitation program for Medicaid-eligible, first time moms. Nurses meet regularly with women to develop trusting relationship, provide resources and help moms develop early childhood parenting skills from pregnancy through two years of age. Call 303-239-7074 or visit:

Prenatal Plus Program:  This free program for Medicaid recipients offers home or office visits to support healthy lifestyle choices, including healthy eating and tobacco free living. Prenatal Plus offers nurse home visitations to women during pregnancy and for up to 2 months after the baby is born. Prenatal Plus team members offer support and education, providing answers to questions about pregnancy, labor and delivery, breastfeeding, birth control and how to care for your baby. Call 303-275-6011 or visit:

Public Health – Family Collaboration Program is a voluntary home visit program for any family referred from the Jefferson County Human Services Department. Collaboration nurses offer parenting support, stress management tools, and information regarding nutrition, feeding and care of children, birth control, and behavioral issues. Nurses can offer support to moms, dads, grandparents, and other caregivers and provide services on average from 4-7 months. Call 303-275-6011 or visit:

HCP, A Program for Children and Youth with Special Needs  provides in-depth, one-on-one care coordination for families of children (birth to 21 years) who have special health care needs. Examples of care coordination activities include assistance with identifying local services, finding insurance or other financial resources, and supporting important transitions such as from hospital to home or from child to adult care. Call 303-239-7006 or visit:

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