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Program aims to slow premature birth rate

POSTED: June 16, 2007 5:03 a.m.
The Liberty County Health Department, in conjunction with Liberty County Family Connections, has created a new initiative aimed at slowing the rate of premature birth among military mothers.
The Healthy Hero Babies program works to decrease the number of military mothers delivering babies prior to their 37th week of pregnancy by providing them with support during the first trimester, when the major organs are formed in infants.
While the overall percentage of premature births in Liberty County is high — 13 percent based on the most recent statistics by the March of Dimes — military mothers face a unique set of challenges during pregnancy that increase their rates of preterm birth, according to LCHD Administrator Deidre Michelson.
“These moms, either dependent military moms or active duty military moms, are exposed to a certain degree of stress that your non-military affiliated female may not be exposed to,” she said during a recent Progress Through People breakfast.
HHB is meant to relieve some of this stress by supplying pregnant mothers with information on nutrition, diet, medications and other health issues during the first three months of pregnancy.
The program will also give mothers an opportunity “to band together and talk about the things going on in their life related to their pregnancy” through weekly meetings set-up by Family Connections military family advocate Jennifer Hatcher.
In addition, local businesses and health providers have agreed to support the program by creating a network of services that will be available both on and off Fort Stewart.
“Hopefully,” Michelson noted, “this will build continued enhanced collaboration between the on post community and what’s going on off post.”
Calling the program a new way of supporting military families in an area where there has been little focus during deployments, the administrator added HH’s main purpose is to be a one-stop shop for resources.
“Really what this program is all about is using up what resources are available to provide as much information, education and support to these pregnant military moms as we can,” Michelson said. “We want these soldiers to come home to families, and certainly fat little babies.”
For more information on Healthy Hero Babies, call Hatcher at the Liberty County Family Connections office at 368-7531.
 

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