NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – One out of ten babies in Connecticut is born before 37 weeks. Premature birth is the number one killer of babies. The state gets a “B” on the 2015 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. While other major cities had higher pre-term birth rates than the statewide rate, New Haven came in with a slightly lower one.
“What we have seen in Connecticut is definitely racial and ethnic minorities so African-American communities, Hispanic communities are those mostly impacted by poor birth outcomes,” said Jordana Frost with March of Dimes CT.
The success in the Elm City underscores what the New Haven Health Department is able to do. Maria Damiani is the Director of Women/Maternal and Child Health.
“We are fortunate in New Haven that we have resources that some of the other cities that are listed on the report card don’t have, and we’ve had the opportunity to coordinate those resources,” said Damiani.
But there’s more to the multi-pronged approach to decreasing the number of babies born too soon. They also focus on the family — with a holistic eye.
“I think it’s really difficult to take good care of yourself, if you don’t have housing, if you can’t find a job, if you don’t have enough food,” said Damiani.
Moms like Shanice Johnson feel the stress.
“Where am I going to live? How am I going to and from appointments. All of those things start to weigh in. I had to make sure I got a job. I had to make sure that my household was together. I had to find stable living,” said Johnson.
She got the help she needed. Thanks to the Healthy Start program offered by the Health Department. Here, nine-month-old son Aidyn, born one day late, is a healthy and happy baby.
“You have to be happy. You have to be healthy in order for your baby to be healthy,” said Johnson.
“There’s a lot more behind it in terms of infrastructure and coordination of services and making sure that once they have the knowledge, they have also the opportunity to receive the services they need or the care they need,” said Frost.
Bridgeport, Hartford, Stamford and Waterbury had a higher pre-term birth rate than New Haven.
Connecticut recently received two major awards from the National March of Dimes for its success in driving down the rate of premature births.