March of Dimes Pilot Program in Texas Seeks To Reduce Rate of Premature, Low-Birthweight Infants Among Black Women
March of Dimes has chosen two Texas churches to test a pilot program that seeks to reduce the number of premature and severely underweight infants born to black women in Tarrant County, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The two churches are located in Fort Worth and Tyler, which have high numbers of premature and severely underweight infants. Tarrant County has had the state's highest infant mortality rate among black women for the past 10 years. The program, called Honey Child, trains one woman in each church to facilitate monthly group discussions that educate pregnant women on the importance of physician visits and nutrition, how to reduce stress and increase self esteem, weight management and yoga. The facilitator meets with the group for two hours each month for seven months and assigns each woman a mentor from the church. So far, the program includes 16 women from both churches. An infant mortality task force in Tarrant County is helping to recruit women for the program. LaToya Lewis, director of prematurity initiatives for the March of Dimes in Fort Worth, said, "Spirituality and the church [are] so important in the black community. We developed this faith-based model, but March of Dimes does not have all the answers, so we are reaching out to people in the community to help us." March of Dimes will determine the success of the program based on quantitative measures, including the term and weight of the infants born to the women, and qualitative measures it plans to get through a survey (Vaughn, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 3/28).
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