Originally published Nov. 14, 2011
Between 1998 and 2007, there were 907 fetal and infant deaths and 8 maternal deaths in Clayton County. In an effort to develop a long-term strategy to improve Clayton County’s fetal-infant mortality rate and decrease the number of infants born low birth weight (less than 5lbs, 8oz) or very low birth weight (less than 3lbs, 5oz), the Clayton County Board of Health (CCBOH), in collaboration with the Clayton County Collaborative Authority, Inc., has launched the Clayton County Perinatal and Infant Health Coalition. Recently, the CCBOH introduced the new coalition and discussed the impact of poor birth outcomes:
- Premature birth is the leading cause of death among newborns
- A premature baby is ten times more expensive than a baby born full term
- It costs approximately $200,000 for an extended NICU stay for a premature baby
- The average cost of medical care for a premature or low birth-weight baby during its first year of life is about $49,000 according to a new report from the March of Dimes Foundation. By contrast, a newborn without complications costs $4,551 for care in its first year of life
- Newborns with other kinds of complications, such as congenital defects, have medical expenses of $10,273 on average in the first year of life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infant mortality rates are an accurate measure of the health and well-being of populations across and within countries. Since 2002, Clayton County’s infant mortality rate has been consistently higher than the state average.
Members of the growing coalition include CCBOH, Clayton County Collaborative Authority, Inc., Emory University, The March of Dimes, United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, Southern Regional Medical Center, and House of Dawn. During the coalition launch, the CCBOH shared current county-wide data on infant mortality and poor birth outcomes, discussed the proposed approach to the coalition’s work, and encouraged stakeholders and partners to assist in developing a long-term strategy for improving the county’s infant mortality rate.
Speakers at the coalition launch included: Clayton County District Health Director Alpha Fowler Bryan, MD; Fleda Mask Jackson, PhD, a professor of applied public health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health; Jackie Lawson, Director of Women and Children Services, Southern Regional Medical Center; Taralyn Keese, Program Director for the House of Dawn; Twanna Nelson, Outreach Specialist for the Clayton County Board of Health; and Susan Webster, WIC nutritionist for the Clayton County Board of Health.
A highlight of the meeting included the presentation of the first of several Angel Ride™ Infant Car Beds from CCBOH to Southern Regional Medical Center in recognition of the hospital’s work to improve birth outcomes within Clayton County. Infant carriers that are widely available to parents may not be suitable for low birth weight and very low birth weight babies, so providing an Angel Ride bed allows families to transport infants safely until they are able to properly fit in a regular infant carrier. Low birth weight babies may also have medical conditions, such as respiratory difficulties, which may require them to travel flat in a car bed which is not permissible with typical infant carriers.
“In 2007, Clayton County’s overall infant mortality rate spiked to 10.6 deaths out of every 1,000 births from 8.3 deaths per 1,000 births the previous year,” said Clayton County District Health Director Alpha Fowler Bryan, MD. “While Clayton’s rate is slowly stabilizing, it has consistently been higher than the state average, which has remained around 8 deaths per 1,000 births.”
“Too many babies in Clayton are born too small, too sick, or too soon,” Dr. Bryan continued. “In recent years, the Clayton County Board of Health has worked closely with the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Information and Policy to determine the areas in Clayton where people are experiencing the highest number of infant deaths. This coalition will allow local stakeholders to share strategies that may be useful in tackling perinatal and infant health issues.”