Allegheny County's Plan to Reduce Infant Mortality

By Harris, Roderick | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 9, 2015 | Go to article overview

Allegheny County's Plan to Reduce Infant Mortality


Harris, Roderick, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Each of us can play a part in improving birth outcomes in Allegheny County. As expressed by Dannai Harriel, Maternal and Child Health program manager at the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), in the article "Nurse, family partnerships aim to stop black infant deaths in Pittsburgh" (June 29 and TribLIVE.com), the department has a limited number of resources available, but many more deserving residents in need of services. That is why it is encouraging to know that partnerships are growing among local Maternal and Child Health (MCH) partners, with the collective mission of reducing the high numbers of infant deaths in Allegheny County.

The health department's home visiting program called Nurse- Family Partnership includes nurses making home visits to expecting and new moms. The department also supports a breastfeeding helpline, educates participants on safe sleep practices and is an active participant in Healthy Families America, which services families through a child's third birthday.

ACHD also recently released a document called Plan for a Healthier Allegheny (PHA). MCH is so important to the health of Allegheny County that it is one of five priorities in the PHA.

The goal -- to reduce morbidity and mortality by improving the health and quality of life of women, infants, children, caretakers and their families, especially in vulnerable communities -- is one that will require the entire community's participation.

One objective of the PHA is to reduce the overall infant mortality rate and the disparity in rates between white and black populations. In addition to providing education and support, such as that provided through Healthy Start and other programs, the ACHD program also employs strategies that include educating parents on safe sleep and sudden infant death syndrome through home visiting, and transitioning families to nearby family support centers and federally qualified health centers. …

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