I write about maternal health a lot on Social Good Moms and sometimes I don’t write enough about newborn health. I saw some interesting information this month about the best and worst states to have a baby and thought the data was interesting to share. The data was compiled by Wallet Hub. They compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across four key … Continue reading The Best and Worst States to Have a Baby
War is suffocating every corner of Syria and has been for the past several years. In areas that are close to neighboring countries like Idlib province that borders Turkey, Syrians from all over the country are fleeing there for safety believing that those border regions won’t fall under severe air attack. Unfortunately, as we learned last week, that just is not the case. Chemicals, including … Continue reading How You Can Help Mothers and Babies in Syria’s Idlib Camps
When I travel to low-income countries I am most interested in learning about and reporting on maternal and newborn health. As a mother of two daughters it is my biggest passion. Today on Giving Tuesday I am proud to work with one of my favorite international nonprofit organizations: World Vision USA. I had the distinct opportunity to travel with them to the Philippines a few years … Continue reading Double Your Donation Today By Giving to World Vision #GivingTuesday
Nutrition of women before and during pregnancy and when breastfeeding is critical in determining the health and survival of the mother and of her unborn baby.
Undernourished pregnant women have higher reproductive risks. They are more likely to experience obstructed labour, or to die during or after childbirth. Poor nutrition in pregnancy also results in babies growing poorly in the womb and being born underweight and susceptible to diseases. These mothers also invariably produce low quality breast milk.
Maternal malnutrition has inter-generational consequences because it is cyclical. Poor nutrition in pregnancy is linked to undernourishment in-utero which results in low birth weight, pre-maturity, and low nutrient stores in infants. These babies end up stunted and, in turn, give birth to low birth weight babies. Optimal maternal nutrition is therefore vital to break this inter-generational cycle.
In Kenya, women’s nutritional needs during pregnancy has not received much attention. This has exposed a gap in efforts to improve maternal and child health.
I have had the great pleasure of seeing two SOS Children’s Villages: one in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the other in Chicago, Illinois. While they are markedly different the premise is the same and that is to provide quality care with a loving family for children who have been orphaned or abandoned.
The SOS Children’s Village I visited in Chicago looks like many neighborhoods you might see anywhere in America, but it is made up of 17 single-family homes led by a Foster Parent with children who desperately need SOS Children’s Villages services. In fact, the Chicago Village is SOS Children’s Villages first urban village in the world. SOS Children’s Villages provides stable family homes for children who may not have parents at all or may have parents who are incapable of taking care of them properly.
Breastfeeding has both short-term and long-term nutritional benefits for children. Nutrition is central to sustainable development. Good nutrition in the first 1000 days of a child’s life is critical for child growth, well being and survival, and future productivity.
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for children until they are six months old and continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary feedings until children are two, for optimal growth and development.
What Kenya did right
Kenya has seen a remarkable growth in exclusive breastfeeding for children under six months old. In 2003 only 13% of mothers were breastfeeding exclusively. This year, according to the National Demographic and Health Survey, 61% of mothers of children aged less than six months were breastfeeding exclusively.
When I visit low- and middle-income countries like Ethiopia, Zambia, the Philippines, and Tanzania, I am always heartened by the number of mothers I see breastfeeding their babies. Breastfeeding for so many of these mothers is the best and most affordable way for them to nourish their babies. While every mother does not breastfeed to be sure, the sheer number of mothers I see breastfeeding at local clinics, while walking with their baby strapped to them or taking a break on a city bench, gives me hope.
A study conducted by two Dartmouth researchers reveals an increasing number of normal weight and term babies are being cared for in hospitals’ NICUs across the country calling into question the reasoning behind intensive care for healthy babies. Tracking births from January 2007 through December 2012 the study conducted by Wade Harrison, MPH, and David Goodman, MD, MS, of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice found a 23 percent increase in NICU stays for normal weight and term babies.
In their paper, Epidemiologic Trends in Neonatal Intensive Care, published this month in JAMA Pediatrics, Harrison and Goodman admit there are no definitive reasons why the increase is steadily occurring, although they do sound the alarm that a pattern was discovered across 18 million live births.
Today a new bipartisan bill, The Reach Every Mother and Child Act, was introduced to the Senate by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Chris Coons (D-Del). The Reach Every Mother and Child Act will build upon decades-old work of the United States being a leader on drastically reducing maternal, newborn, and child mortality. In fact, this new bill will help save the lives of 15 million children and 600,000 women by 2020.
Michael Wahl didn’t purposely set out to create an innovative cloth diaper for babies who live in the developing world as well as a humanitarian organization, Dri Butts, that distributes diapers to families in need. Rather, he saw it as a necessity to prevent diseases caused by the spread of fecal matter.
Many children in low-and middle-income countries have an increased chance of not living to see their fifth birthday oftentimes because of diseases whose cause stems from fecal matter. In fact, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death for children under five. Other fecal-related diseases are cholera and typhoid.
A new, first-of-its-kind report, The Ultimate Investment in the Future Profiles of Corporate Engagement in the Health and Development of Newborns [PDF] was recently released that catalogs 48 corporations and their financial commitments to saving the lives of more newborns globally. Currently there are 2.6 million stillbirths every year and 2.8 million newborns do not make it past four weeks. Most of these deaths occur … Continue reading 48 Corporations Step Up to Curb Newborn Deaths
Maternal health remains one of the most elusive Millennium Development Goal to achieve. While maternal deaths worldwide have been nearly halved since 1990, there is still a long way to go to ensure that more women’s lives are saved during childbirth. Currently 800 women lose their lives during childbirth due to largely preventable reasons. According to the new report, Strategies Towards Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality, by 2030 the maternal mortality ratio should be no larger than 70 deaths/100,000 live births and no country should have a MMR of 140 deaths/100,000 live births.
How can this be achieved?
The new report calls for more wellness-focused healthcare as opposed to emergency-focused care for expectant mothers despite available resources. Most importantly, the post 2015 maternal health framework is rooted in human rights for women and girls. In order to save more women’s lives, there needs to be a cross-sectional system of integrated care. According to the report, more women, girls, and communities need to be empowered to recognize gender equality and empowerment. Mothers and newborns must have integrated care as opposed to caring for both independently.
Inside the child malnutrition unit at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, the largest regional hospital in Haiti’s Artibonite region, colorful murals have been painted over the beds. They were specifically designed to teach parents, especially mothers, how to keep their newborns and children healthy and well-fed.
This mural in Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti shows mothers the importance of breastfeeding their newborns as well as the importance of taking their babies to the Centre de Santé (health center).
Haiti has a 53 percent literacy rate making it imperative that health messaging at the hospital is conveyed through art as well as through color-coded words. For example, the hospital’s social services are all written in red so those who cannot read can easily find that department. Additionally, for those who can read all signs are written in French as well as in Creole as language politics in the region are quite heightened.
Mothers instead of fathers are more likely to tend to their children in the malnutrition unit like the mothers I saw when I visited. Some mothers were feeding their children and others were sitting with their children who were too weak to be awake.
Haitian women have a lower literacy rate than men in Haiti making messaging through art critical to driving home nutrition education in this unit.
2015 will be an interesting year in global health primarily because this is the year when the Millennium Development Goals should ideally be reached. Global health experts admit that many of the goals, for example MDG5, will not be reached globally even though some of them have already been reached on a country level. Ethiopia effectively reached MDG4 along with Bangladesh, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, and Tanzania according to … Continue reading 5 Global Health Stories We’re Following This Year
Every day 800 women die due to largely preventable causes during childbirth. That number is mentioned everywhere maternal health is mentioned and championed, but it always bears repeating. Until the drastic maternal mortality numbers decline the data must remain front and center. Mothers’ lives depend on us knowing the facts. Over the past few decades maternal health numbers have effectively decreased by 47 percent, but we … Continue reading 5 Maternal Health Organizations to Support Now