Recent studies from the Florida Health Department shows an increase in infant mortality in black women. In Leon County the rate has increased to 14 infant deaths to every 1000 births for black women.
“There isn’t just one particular reason for the rise in infant mortality for African American women, there are several reasons why the rate is increasing,” said Fran Close, interim assistant dean for student services in the College of Pharmacy.
The assistant dean pointed out that the general lack of interest was also an impediment to educating women on the issues surrounding infant mortality.
“Although being affected by infant mortality doesn’t discriminate against race, marital status, class, or those with a higher education,” Close said. “With black women there is a general lack of knowledge pertaining to pregnancy health.”
Douching on a regular basis is common among black women, according to Close, but douching increases the chance of infection, and could cause the mother to give birth after 37 weeks.
“Women who are pregnant need to know the signs of pre-term labor, so that they can get the proper care before it is too late,” Close said.
Kristy Lee, health education coordinator at Capital Healthy Start, said that the signs of pre-term labor can be contractions every 10 minutes or more, tightening sensations in the stomach, dull lower back pain, pressure that feels as if the baby is pushing down, stomach cramps with or without diarrhea, and leaking fluid from the vaginal area.
Lee also said that expecting and non-expecting mothers should also consider their overall body health, by exercising, reducing stress levels, getting proper nutrition, and not smoking to help prevent infant mortality.
“What we are trying to get women to understand is they need to be healthy now, Lee said. “Taking care of your body needs to start as young has 14 years old to insure a healthy pregnancy in the future.”
Capital Healthy Start Coalition is a program that educates women throughout the community about infant mortality and pre-term labor.
They offer support group meetings and classes such as breast feeding support, child birthing classes, family counseling, baby care support, and mom care.
“I attended some of the meetings at Healthy Start and found them to be useful during my pregnancy,” said Ashlei Harris, a fourth year elementary education student from Atlanta. “I would definitely encourage expecting mothers to go.”
Close, along with the help of several students, will be hosting a pre-pregnancy education program called “Get a Little Pep in your Life” at the university. The program will be feature activities such as focus group discussions, presentations, and developing brochures tailored to different organizations around campus.