August 27, 2015
(Petersburg, Va.)-The Healthy Start/Loving Steps program at the Petersburg Health Department is seeking community support through the creation of a network of people who have diverse expertise and experience. The network, called the Loving Steps Community Action Network (CAN), will develop strategies to reduce infant mortality and low birth weight, as well as increase awareness regarding these issues. The CAN will work with the Petersburg Health Department to implement those strategies within the City of Petersburg.
The Healthy Start/Loving Steps program is being revamped as the latest national statistics show a disparity in the infant mortality rate between white women and African American women. Nationally, in 2013, the infant mortality rate for African American women was 11.11 per 1,000 births, compared to 5.96 per 1,000 births overall. In Petersburg, the infant mortality rate for 2013 among African American women was 10.4 per 1,000 births. The infant mortality rate for white women in Petersburg was 0 in 2013. Additionally in Petersburg, for 2013, the low birth weight rate among African Americans babies was 16.1 per 1,000 births, more than twice that of white babies at 7.4 per 1,000 births. “Disparities in infant mortality and low birth weight can be avoided by addressing social and environmental factors that contribute to health. The Healthy Start/Loving Steps program is one way the Petersburg Health Department is working to reduce these disparities, and striving to give all babies born in Petersburg an opportunity for a healthy birth,” said Crater Health District Director Alton Hart, Jr., MD, MPH.
Healthy Start/Loving Steps is a federally-funded, home-visiting program serving the city of Petersburg. The program is working to reduce infant mortality and low birth weight rates of babies born in Petersburg. The program provides services to women ages 20-40, and infants up to age two. Services include health screenings, nutrition education, health care referrals, transportation to medical appointments, and social support. These services are accomplished through case management and community involvement. “It takes collaboration with the whole community to ensure Petersburg babies have a healthy start to a healthy life,” said Public Health Nurse Supervisor Mattlyn Debrick.
For more information about the Healthy Start/Loving Steps program, or to serve on the Loving Steps Community Action Network, call the Petersburg Health Department at 804-863-1652.