The organizations and the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health are working together to reduce the high infant mortality rate in Allen County, especially in the 46806 Zip Code area in southeast Fort Wayne.
The 46806 area had the third highest infant mortality rate in the state at 14.3 deaths per 1,000 live births for the period of 2011-2015, the Indiana Department of Health reported. The same area also ranked third highest in the state for infant mortality of African-American infants with a rate of 25.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, based on the most recent data available, said Paige Wilkins, Healthier Moms and Babies director.
The No. 1 cause of infant death is premature birth, said Wilkins, whose organization works to reduce infant mortality and improve pregnancy results in Allen County. Research has shown the three biggest factors contributing to premature birth are fewer than 10 prenatal medical visits, being ages 14-21 and being on Medicaid, she said.
In 2015, only about 44 percent of all pregnant women in Allen County sought and received prenatal care during their first trimester, Wilkins said.
To encourage more women to get prenatal care, Healthier Moms and Babies and McMillen Health are reaching out to the youngest moms — those in their teens and early 20s.
"How do you reach young women? You reach them through their cell phones and through online," said Holli Seabury, McMillen Health CEO.
The Babies Love website will tell them where they can get a free pregnancy test, how to find a doctor and health insurance, where they can get baby supplies at free or reduced cost, and where to get help to quit smoking. They also can chat live with a support person via phone or text and sign up for regular informational texts from Babies Love or one of five recommended pregnancy smartphone applications.
Videos of 30 seconds to 1 minute at the top of each webpage tell young women how to use the resource information on that webpage, Seabury said.
Women also can click on a link for "Need help now," and a Healthier Moms and Babies staff member will contact them within one business day to assess the woman for that organization's services or for referral to other community resources, Wilkins said. Her organization also will monitor moms who seek help through Babies Love and follow up to learn the outcome of their pregnancy.
The Babies Love project has been funded by a $50,000 Parkview Health Explorer grant, Seabury and Wilkins said. The grant supports the project through its first year, but Healthier Moms and Babies and McMillen Health plan to continue it in future years.
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To view the Babies Love website, go to http://www.babieslove.org.