St. Johns County releases community improvement plan

National Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Reducing the rate of low birth weight babies is a key objective in the St. Johns County Leadership Council’s recently released 2011 Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan.

The plan was released after a year-long MAPP process that helped identify the following strategic objectives area: Improve public health system collaboration, develop community health/social services resource tool, reduce substance abuse, increase access to dental care, increase access to mental health care, reduce low birth weight infants and reduce cancer morbidity/mortality(colon/breast/lung).

The community goal is to reduce the percentage of low birth weight (<2500 grams) infants from the 2009 rate of 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent in 2014.

The St. Johns Infant Mortality Task Force, an initiative of the Healthy Start Coalition, will take on responsibility for efforts in this area. The Task Force identified three areas of focus based on the risk factors for low birth weight babies: promoting healthy pre-pregnancy/pregnancy BMIs, reducing tobacco usage among pregnant women and increasing pregnancy intervals.

Strategies will include education and improvements to access to care. A few of the proposed activities of the Task Force include:

  • Educating OB/GYNs about infant mortality and community efforts to reduce it
  • Programs to support OB/GYNs in encouraging healthy eating and lifestyles to annual gynecological patients
  • Smoking cessation classes for pregnant women and their families