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DC Health Releases Plan To Improve Perinatal Health, Data on Births in the District

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Data-Informed Initiatives Serve to Address Health Disparities Among Mothers and Babies in DC

WASHINGTON, DC – The District of Columbia Department of Health (DC Health) today released the “Perinatal Health and Infant Mortality Report” which describes a comprehensive approach to improve the health and well-being of District moms and babies before, during and after childbirth. The report includes years of local data regarding births to District residents, health characteristics of women before and during pregnancy, and birth outcomes of mothers who had live births in DC.

“We want all District residents to achieve optimal health, and monitoring our data informs how we do that,” said LaQuandra Nesbitt, MD, MPH, director of the DC Department of Health. “The trends and disparities presented in this report shape how we develop strategies to support moms, babies and families in DC.”

Social, economic and physical environments such as poverty and education affect health. DC Health’s efforts focus on the main causes of poor birth outcomes in the District to improve perinatal health and to promote health equity. To help meet these goals, DC Health will employ three strategies in 2018 that directly address some of the report’s key findings: promote better health for women well before pregnancy, prevent or remove barriers to receiving prenatal care, and protect babies from being born too early.

In addition to the report, the proposed Better Access for Babies to Integrated Equitable Services (B.A.B.I.E.S.) Act of 2018 includes four key provisions to reinforce the goal of providing high-quality services for pregnant women, mothers and newborns:

Annual report card for birthing facilities by 2020 to help ensure that every pregnant woman who delivers in the District and every baby born in DC receives the highest standard of care.
Perinatal and infant health advisory committee of DC-based subject matter experts to review existing needs, identify emerging issues and make recommendations to safeguard newborns.
DC Health will partner with two birthing facilities to find the most effective ways to identify and treat women at-risk for preterm birth and reduce the number of babies born too early in DC by the use of medication called 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17P).
Annual report on baby-friendly government buildings to assess the availability and accessibility of breastfeeding support, such as lactation rooms, for employees and visitors.
The report also outlines nationally-recognized strategies such as encouraging regular visits to a primary health care provider, facilitating access to healthy food and promoting reproductive and sexual health.