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Escambia Aims To Attack Infant Mortality

Photo via Flickr//peasap

  AIM - "Attack Infant Mortality", is a collaboration between the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, the University of West Florida and other are agencies dedicated to infant health. They say the health of newborns begins long before a woman decides to have a baby.

The numbers about infant mortality tell a disturbing statistical story: for every 1,000 children born in Escambia County, just over 7 of them will die before reaching their first birthday. Dr. Erica Jordan, an Assistant Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of West Florida who is active in AIM says the actual number is 7.6 deaths for every 1,000 live births in the county.

Once a child is born, Dr. Jordan says there are outstanding health intervention programs like Healthy Start of Escambia County and the March of Dimes, but it's a woman's health before pregnancy that AIM is hoping to improve. The obvious areas of concern are diet and exercise, smoking and substance abuse, but there are other more subtle areas where a woman can influence the health of a child.  One is making sure women have enough Folic Acid. There are supplements that women are given when they are pregnant, but for the maximum benefit the Folic Acid levels in a woman's blood should be at the proper level before pregnancy. She also points out that about half of all pregnancies are unintended.

And while you might think that poverty is the main reason for the higher infant mortality rate in African-American children, Dr. Jordan says that's not really the case. She says while poverty affects almost everything, like access to education, quality health care, nutrition and a whole host of other things; "I am an African-American woman with a PhD, I have a job, I have health insurance, and I have a greater risk of losing my child to infant mortality than a white woman who didn't finish high school."  Dr. Jordan points out that this is not just a problem in Escambia County;. Those facts would be the same if she lived anywhere in America.

AIM Escambia is gearing up efforts to help solve some of these problems. As with most problems, the first step is education and awareness. They are running a community awareness campaign to inform people of this increased risk for infant mortality. They are also running the AIM Educator Training Program that;s modeled after the Office for Minority Health's Preconception Peer Educator Training Program

You can learn more about AIM Escambia HERE.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.