Prematurity Awareness Month is dedicated to raising awareness for one of the main cases of infant mortality: premature birth. Premature birth is a serious and costly problem. According to the March of Dimes, each year more than a half-million babies are born too soon in the United States, costing more than $26 billion. In South Carolina, 13.7 percent of live births in 2012 were preterm. What’s more, preterm birth is one of the primary causes of infant mortality.
One local program is working to address this problem. Nurse-Family Partnership of Lexington and Richland counties is an evidence-based home-visitation program that pairs low-income, first-time mothers with registered nurses. It works to improve pregnancy outcomes, improve child health and development,and improve families’ economic self-sufficiency.
More than 35 years of evidence shows that Nurse-Family Partnership works. Only 10 percent of women enrolled in the program had premature births, compared to 14 percent of non-participants. In addition, 90 percent of babies enrolled in the program were born full-term, and 89 percent were born at a healthy weight; 73 percent of participating mothers had no subsequent pregnancies at program completion; and 48 percent of mothers who entered the program without a high school diploma or GED are working to obtain one.
The partnership uses a home-visitation model, where nurses work closely with mothers for more than two years. Through sustained education, Nurse-Family Partnership is improving the devastating statistics on preterm births in South Carolina.
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President & CEO
United Way of the Midlands