Goal 1 (continued)
Understanding Age Related Health Care Issues
Maternal Health, Preconception and Pregnancy
Pregnancy and childbirth are exciting
events for the entire human family. However,
before a mother becomes pregnant her own physical and mental health, economic
circumstances, desire to have a child, age and behaviors may have an effect upon her
future pregnancy, her health and a growing fetus. It is widely believed by experts
in maternal and child health that future reductions in infant mortality will be the
result of improving the health care behaviors and practices of all women of
childbearing age (e.g. nutrition, folic acid, alcohol and substance use, weight).
“The period of greatest environmental sensitivity for the developing fetus is between
17 and 56 days after fertilization” — a time period when most women do not know they
3) Health care research gives us insight into how to best ensure a
healthy mother and a healthy baby. Some risks include:
Mother's Age (less than age 17 and older than age 35):
Child and adolescent births have greater risks due to health, educational,
economic and social reasons. While many teens will have a healthy birth and be
good mothers, their risk for poor outcomes for themselves and their children is
great.(6) Pregnant adolescents tend to seek
prenatal care later in their pregnancy; their bodies are often not fully
developed for bearing children; and they often lack social supports. A lower
maternal education completion rate is related to a higher risk of infant
mortality and low birth weight. Adolescents who are mothers are at greater risk
for experiencing domestic violence
as a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect.
Mothers over age 35 and their children are at greater risk for poor childbirth
A recent pregnancy or birth: The recommended interval between
births is 24 months to give a woman's body time to heal and become strong enough
to carry another fetus. Expanding the time period to 24 months between births
also contributes to healthy infant emotional development by providing an infant
special bonding time with their mother.
Illness during pregnancy: Illnesses such as diabetes, anemia, or a
sexually transmitted disease require special handling during pregnancy to
protect both mother and infant.
Nutrition and weight gain: Adequate consumption of folic acid
prior to pregnancy and in the early prenatal period may prevent spina bifida.
Appropriate weight gain is correlated to improved birth outcomes (e.g., birth
weight above 5 ˝ pounds).
Unhealthy behaviors: Smoking, drugs or alcohol consumption put both
mother and the newborn at risk. Binge drinking and alcohol consumption can result
in a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome; and smoking is related to low birth weight
and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Wanting a baby:
most women will be happy about having a child after learning they are pregnant, an
unwanted child and pregnancy is a risk factor for maternal health, a growing fetus
and a child after birth. Women who do not want a pregnancy are more likely to
engage in risky behaviors and to experience maternal depression and domestic
violence from a partner who does not want the child. The child is at greater risk
for child abuse, low birth weight and infant mortality.
and support systems in a family and a community are critical for a woman who is
pregnant, her partner, and the newborn, particularly those for whom a pregnancy is
difficult or unwanted.
Mother's race/ethnicity: Maternal race/ethnicity effects include
an increased risk for African American mothers for maternal death, premature birth,
a low birth weight birth, fetal death and infant mortality. For example, maternal
death rates are four times higher for black women than white women.
Single mothers: Raising a child is hard work. Single mothers,
particularly young mothers, are likely to have fewer support systems and
experience greater risk in their pregnancy and as parents.
Maternal education: Premature, low or very low birth weight births
are more likely to occur to mothers with less than a high school education. A
lower education level is associated with a greater likelihood of risk taking
behaviors of smoking during pregnancy and inadequate or no prenatal care, but
interestingly, women with more education are more likely to drink alcohol during
pregnancy. A lower education level increases the likelihood of living in poverty
and being unmarried, lower levels of breastfeeding and failure to thrive in
infants. A lower education level is more frequent among Hispanic and black
Major Public Health Efforts in Florida
for Maternal Health, Preconception and Pregnancy
Diseases related to pregnancy risks (e.g., diabetes, HIV)
Disparities in birth outcome
Domestic violence prevention or interventions
Family planning, birth spacing and timing, and youth abstinence
Folic acid supplement education
Health care for women of child bearing age
Healthy Start: Early and continuous prenatal care, risk assessment and special
care for high risk pregnancies
Pregnancy related deaths/maternal mortality
Public awareness of unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, drug intake, and
Sexually transmitted diseases screening and prevention
Support for the important role of fathers
- WIC (Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program)
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