By Lee Watson
October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness month. The leading contributor to infant mortality is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby usually occurring during sleep among infants less than 1-year-old. As part of its Infant Mortality Reduction Plan, Michigan is promoting reducing sleep-related infant deaths and the expansion of home-visiting and other support programs to promote healthy women and children as two of its nine top priority goals.
Programs like the Detroit Nurse Family Partnership, administered through Authority Health promote prevention of SIDS through education and training in proper sleep positions for babies to reduce the possibility of SIDS in addition to their programs dedicated to the overall wellness of mother and child.
“Infant mortality is higher in Detroit that it is in some third world countries, but NFP is making a difference, one family at a time,” says Sharon Burnett, a registered nurse, and director of the Detroit NFP program. “Infant mortality and SIDS is real here in the city of Detroit.”
NFP is a national evidence-based home visitation model that pairs baccalaureate- prepared nurses with first-time mothers from the third trimester of pregnancy to 24 months after giving birth. Poor health outcomes for mothers and babies are frequently attributed to social barriers like racial inequity, poverty, stress, food insecurity, lack of education and resources, limited access to transportation or health care can contribute to poor health outcomes for mothers and babies. Addressing the psychosocial needs of first-time mothers result in healthier maternal outcomes, improved parenting, and promoting healthy family development. The goals of the Nurse Family Partnership program are to:
- Improve pregnancy outcomes by helping women engage in good preventative health practices, including thorough prenatal care from their health care providers, improving diets, and reducing their use of cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal substances.
- Improve child health by helping parents provide responsible and competent care.
- Improve the economic self-sufficiency of the family by helping parents develop a vision of their own future, plan future pregnancies, continue their education and find work.
It’s clear that contextual factors that influence infant mortality differ between communities, and the NFP program is part of the solution for addressing health inequities. The nurses counsel the mothers and provide guidance for successful pregnancy and delivery and promote healthy habits for early childhood development. Their mission is to mobilize the community through education and support and a unified strategy to reduce infant deaths.
“NFP nurses and their clients build relationships over two and a half years and many of them are like family,” says Burnett.
September was Infant Mortality Awareness Month. It is important that the issues surrounding infant mortality and its contributing factors are not relegated to just one month of reflection but as an ongoing practice in solution. To find out more about the Detroit Nurse Family Partnership program and how you can support its mission, please click here or call 313.319.5717.