HRSA News: HRSA awards over $100 million to improve pregnancy outcomes, reduce infant mortality

(STL.News) – The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded more than $100 million in grant funding through its Healthy Start Initiative: Eliminating Disparities in Perinatal Health (known as Healthy Start).  Administered by HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Healthy Start aims to improve health outcomes before, during, and after pregnancy; and, to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in rates of infant death as well as negative health outcomes in the first 18 months of life.

“Healthy Start programs provide information, resources, and support to pregnant and parenting women and their families to ensure a healthy pregnancy and to help nurture their newborns,” said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D.  “This support is critical to addressing the significant racial and ethnic disparities in the rates of preterm birth and infant death in the U.S.”

Through Healthy Start, 100 organizations serving communities with infant mortality rates at least 1.5 times the U.S. national average, and with high rates of other negative maternal and infant outcomes, will receive up to $1.1 million each year over five years.  Grantees include public and private entities, as well as faith-based, community-based, and tribal organizations.

Funding will support a wide range of services for women, children, and families, including: healthcare coordination; case management; linkage to social services; screening and counseling for alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use; breastfeeding support; interconception education; child development education; and, parenting support. In addition, funding will strengthen the health workforce to provide such services, build a more effective and efficient service-delivery system, and promote and improve health equity across participating organizations.

“The goal of Healthy Start is to ensure that women experiencing high rates of poverty, limited access to care, and other socioeconomic factors can have healthy pregnancies and raise healthy children,” said HRSA Associate Administrator for Maternal and Child Health Michael D. Warren, MD, MPH, FAAP.  “Healthy Start aims to address the factors that can interfere with this goal and to provide every woman, child, and family with the best chances to thrive.”