BABY LUV Could Be Model for State

September 4, 2013

Originally published on Oct. 24, 2011

Public Health Commissioner, Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, visited the Valdosta Health District on October 11 with one thing in mind: infant mortality.

Lowndes County had the highest infant mortality rate when compared to other Georgia counties of comparable size during 2002 and 2003. In an effort to reduce the high infant mortality rate among African-American women in the area, the Lowndes County Board of Health applied for a March of Dimes grant to create the Baby LUV (Lowndes Unique Victories) program.

The Baby LUV program began in 2008 with the goal of improving the rate of infant mortality as well as low birth weight babies among the highest of the high risk pregnant African-American women that came through the health department.

The grant has allowed Lowndes County Health Department to expand its current services to include outreach, case management, follow-up and referrals for health and behavioral health conditions. Baby LUV clients also receive intensive case management, education, and appropriate follow-up by the program’s RN case manager and social service technician.

Monthly educational in-services are held for Baby LUV clients on pertinent topics such as signs and symptoms of pre-term labor, breast feeding, family planning, SIDS prevention, infant CPR and safety, immunization, and car seat safety.

Possibly most importantly, Baby LUV staff provides support and encouragement to their clients that they may not receive at home. One client describes Baby LUV as, “Family; because it takes a village to raise a child. So many of us may not have a supportive family, and Baby LUV supplies that in a way that encourages us and provides us with the education and resources to raise our babies.”

Baby LUV has provided support to over 400 high risk African-American women in Lowndes County thus far. Staff have been able to collaborate with many partners (i.e., Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. of Valdosta State University, Union Cathedral Ministries, Dental Program from Wiregrass Technical College) to provide extended support to clients.

To continue to reduce the infant mortality rate in Lowndes County, Public Health Commissioner, Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, and District Health Director William Grow, MD called on local pediatricians and obstetricians to support public health’s goal of lowering that rate as well as assisting in finding contributing factors for why the African-American women in our area are losing babies within one year of life more frequently than others.

Due to the success of the Baby LUV program, some public health officials have expressed interest in using the program as a model for other areas of the state. For more information on Baby LUV contact Tiffany Crowell at mtcrowell@dhr.state.ga.us or 229-219-1211

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