JONESBORO — In response to the significantly high infant mortality rate in Arkansas, a local physician and health professional have been awarded a grant to provide mothers in the state with education and resources.
Christine Hartford, MD, a board-certified pediatrician and member of clinical medicine at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University (NYITCOM at A-State), and co-investigator Jennifer Conner, Dr.PH ., associate professor at NYITCOM and deputy director of the Delta Population Health Institute (DPHI), have received a $10,000 Community Access to Child Health (CATCH) Implementation Grant from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to support maternal and child health. addressing babies in rural Arkansas through education, connection to services and data collection.
“We are honored to receive this grant,” Hartford said. “Infant mortality rates in Arkansas are among the highest in the nation, and the Delta has the highest rates of any region in our country, making this one of the most pressing child health concerns in our part of the state. Community outreach programs can lead to significant change and better health outcomes, which is exactly what we aim to achieve with this project.”
Hartford and Conner, along with NYITCOM volunteer medical students at A-State, will conduct prenatal group visits for pregnant women in a disadvantaged community in the Delta region of Arkansas. The prenatal visits will take the form of interactive educational sessions covering important topics for pregnant women and new mothers, with a focus on those that can help improve baby health, such as breastfeeding, safe sleep, maternal depression, healthy maternal behavior and vaccinations.
Participants receive information packs on a range of key topics, as well as a list of local resources specific to the community in which they live. The project will help provide prenatal education to pregnant women, a gap that some mothers in the Delta may experience due to, among other things, lack of access to health care, poverty, food insecurity, lack of insurance and lack of education.
The NYITCOM and DPHI teams hope to help program participants learn and understand factors important to their baby’s health. The project will also inform mothers about relevant resources in their environment for both themselves and their babies and help them connect with services if necessary.
The CATCH program, a flagship initiative of the AAP, supports pediatricians and residents to work together within their communities to promote the health of all children.
“As a pediatrician, I have a tremendous passion for children’s health and I am honored to have the opportunity to take on such a valuable project,” Hartford said. “I am grateful that the AAP recognizes the importance of addressing this issue in our state, and I am humbled at the opportunity to help lead such a project.”