Tag Archives: Babies

January Is Birth Defects Prevention Month: Are Local Health Departments Ready?

Q&A with NACCHO Board Member Sandra Elizabeth Ford, MD, MPH
Director of the DeKalb County Board of Health

A baby is born with a birth defect in the United States every 4.5 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Birth defects are defined as any structural changes present at birth that affect how the body looks, works, or both, and they can vary from mild to severe. While not all birth defects can be prevented, there are concrete steps pregnant mothers can take to increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.  In honor of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the CDC released a resource guide providing pregnant moms tips for preventing birth defects.

In addition to guidance provided by CDC, many local public health departments provide prenatal care for expectant moms. Below is Q&A with National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Board Member Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford, Director of the DeKalb County Board of Health in Georgia.  NACCHO represents the nation’s 3,000 local health departments.

Continue reading January Is Birth Defects Prevention Month: Are Local Health Departments Ready?

Neonatal Nurses Receive Recognition for Quality Care

Last week the Council of International Neonatal Nurses held its eighth conference in Belfast, Ireland. Designed for researchers and health professionals, the conference provided three days of networking, talks, and critical discussions about the latest global insights, trends, and clinical practices that will keep more babies alive.

During the conference three outstanding neonatal nurses were recognized for their relentless work with babies, especially in low resource settings that pose constant problems for healthy outcomes. The two overall winners were Anila Ali Bardai of Karachi, Pakistan and Christine Sammy of Kitui, Kenya. Netsayi Gowero of Blantyre, Malawi was named the runner up.

“Christine, Anila and Netasyi were selected over a number of outstanding candidates for their unwavering leadership and passion for ensuring every newborn has a chance to survive and thrive,” said COINN President Karen New.  “All three work in newborn care units in busy referral hospitals providing specialized care to underserved populations. Even in these facilities, we cannot take good care for granted; it has to be developed and defended by committed professionals.”

Some other key tweets during the conferene inlcude:

Key Links:

Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

4 Ways You Can Help Save Newborn Lives

Last week the Global Newborn Health Conference took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. As the first conference to gather leading experts and NGOs together working to reduce  newborn mortality,  one solid, unified voice emerged committed to saving more newborn lives not in lip service, but rather in actionable ideas and steps to reach Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 by 2015.

Reaching MDG4 globally is a daunting task to be sure. That is why leading organizations and foundations have to tackle newborn mortality full throttle. With less than 1000 days to reach MDG 4 across the board some countries will meet their targeted goals and others will fall short. We know this. However, the post 2015 agenda is equally as important in order to strive to keep more babies alive. Reducing the number of 3 million babies who die each year is an ongoing process. In fact, the number seems so high you might feel you can’t truly help if you’re not a part of the global development community, but you can. Here’s how.

  1. Become a part of the conversation: Emerging from the Global Newborn Health Conference was the Global Newborn Health Action Plan. The Plan, which will be officially launched in November, is looking for a range of voices about ways to reduce newborn deaths. You can have your say at www.globalnewbornaction.org and also join the conversation on Twitter at #newbornactionplan.
  2. Donate to newborn health projects: Through Catapult,  a crowdfunding platform with a clear emphasis on women and girls, you can donate to carefully chosen projects that specifically help newborns. Consider donating to PATH’s breast milk banking project in South Africa or birth waiting homes in Sierra Leone that will save moms’ and babies’ lives.
  3. Advocate for and support leading NGOs: There are leading NGOs that work specifically in the areas of maternal and newborn health like Save the Children that works in over 100 countries saving children and Jhpiego that has health programs in more than 25 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
  4. Shop and support the March of Dimes: Through Mother’s Day you can shop, dine, and donate to the March of Dimes through their new imbornto.com campaign. Funds go to improve and amplify research to save more babies’ lives both domestically and globally.

Exclusive Breastfeeding Increases in Kenya

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life is what will keep her the most healthy. There is good news out of Kenya. Exclusive breastfeeding has increased to 32% from a mere 13% in 2003. Exclusive breastfeeding helps keep babies healthy and it also provides a buffer for mother to child HIV transmission by four times.

In September Kenya passed a new law regarding advertising infant formula particularly in health settings. Health workers are also no longer allowed to receive kickbacks in any form from formula companies. This is very important because of the influence health workers have on their patients. The new law regarding health workers includes forbids the following.

A health worker or a proprietor shall not:

a) accept from a manufacturer or a distributor of a designated or complementary food product –

(i) a gift;

(ii) financial assistance;

(iii) fellowship, scholarship, research grant, study tour, funding for meetings and conferences, seminars or continuing education courses; or

(iv) sample of a designated or complementary food product;

(b) distribute or display a designated or complementary food product; or

(c) demonstrate the use of a designated or complementary food product to mothers or members of their families unless in such special cases of need as may be determined by the Cabinet Secretary or his representative, in writing.

The new law also requires formula packaging to include appropriate risks of using formula. We cannot forget that having access to clean water is also an issue in Kenya, so using formula for a baby can potentially be life threatening.

According to WHO data the northeastern part of Kenya sees the largest percentage of exclusive breastfeeding through six months. The coastal part of Kenya logs the smallest percentage of exclusive breastfeeding.

In addition to increased exclusive breastfeeding, Kenya is also seeing an increase in babies breastfeeding within the first hour after delivery. According to World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative in Kenya (2012) KDHS shows an improvement on the percentage of babies’ breastfed within one hour of birth from 52.3% (2003) to 58.1% (2008/09). However, this indicator has stagnated between 52% and 58% since 1993 with 2003 registering the lowest prevalence.

To learn more about Kenya’s exclusive breastfeeding increase visit www.irinnews.org.

Photo: United Nations/ Photo by Albert González Farran