Leon County board of commission holds workshop on infant mortality

The Board of Leon County Commission met Tuesday to discuss infant mortality awareness with a panel of health experts.

The workshop was designed to introduce issues surrounding infant mortality–the death of a baby before his or her first birthday. Infant mortality factors include the mother’s health, environmental surroundings and educational attainment.

Associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine Rural Health of FSU College of Medicine Joedrecka Brown, MD, explained the inequalities of infant mortality rates among African-American mothers compared to Caucasian mothers.  

“When you think about infant mortality it is important to think about the disparities that occur, overall,” Brown.

According to Brown, infant mortality rates are higher in the African-American community.

The workshop also touched on physical and mental health for preterm infants surrounding Leon County.  

According to the Leon County Community Dialogue in 2012, the Leon County percentage for preterm children was roughly 12 percent out of a 16 percentile range. Children who are born preterm have a higher risk of attracting short and long term disabilities.

Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley asked the panel what would be the best way for the Board of Commission to reach an audience who have a low level of education on infant mortality.

In response to Lindley, executive director of Capital Area Health Star Kristy Goldwire, MSW, alluded to the health panel’s recommendation of creating more funding to the preconception health program.

“It is really about getting to those families directly. We were able to speak to families directly once within the 2014-2015 year. However, it is hard when you only receive one-year funding. Our recommendation would be funding for the preconception health plan,” Goldwire said.

Chanelle Glover, fourth-year Florida A&M University physical therapy student from Jacksonville, believes that having programs regarding infant mortality will help decrease the high rate among African-American women.

“Being at a child bearing age I feel that it is important to know about the risks and dangers that may occur postpartum.” Glover said.

The panelists recommended that the Commission have a presence at upcoming events regarding infant mortality, the county staff should continue coordinating with the Department of Health concerning the funding used to reduce infant mortality and to support the increase of the County’s CHSP funding level.

The Board of Commission unanimously agreed to all recommendations and motioned to provide funding for the preconception component of the FY 2017 budget.