Foundation Releases New Study Showing Continued Need For Improving Birth Outcomes In Greater High Point
While the rate of teen pregnancy in Greater High Point decreased between 2010 and 2020, the rates of pre-term births, low birthweight babies, and infant mortality increased slightly and remained above the state average, according to a study released today by the Foundation for a Healthy High Point.
The study, “Healthy Beginnings in Greater High Point,” was done by epidemiologist Mark H. Smith, Ph.D., as part of the Foundation’s Healthy Beginnings strategic initiative. The initiative, which has resulted in $3 million in funding to 12 local organizations, is focused on reducing unintended pregnancies and supporting healthy pregnancies and early child development.
According to the results of Smith’s study, which used data from the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, more work remains to address maternal and child health disparities in Greater High Point.
Trends were analyzed for the Greater High Point area, including zip codes 27260, 27262, 27263, 27265, 27282, and 27370. The study also summarizes and provides comparison data for all of Guilford County and North Carolina and trends between 2010 and 2020 for teen pregnancy rates, pre-term births, low birthweight, and infant mortality.
Among the findings:
- Teen pregnancy rates in Greater High Point, Guilford County as a whole, and North Carolina declined significantly between 2010 and 2020. In Greater High Point, the numbers dropped from 38.1 per 1,000 births to 23.4. However, the 27260 zip code continues to have a significantly higher rate (64.9 per 1,000) than the Greater High Point and Greensboro zip codes combined.
- There was no improvement in the rate of pre-term births (prior to 37 weeks of gestation) between 2010 and 2020 in the state, county or Greater High Point. Racial disparities continue, with pre-term birth rates significantly higher among African American mothers than among white and Hispanic mothers.
- Babies born at less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces are considered low birthweight and more likely to experience health and developmental issues. The percentage of low birthweight babies increased in the state and county, but Greater High Point saw the most significant increase, from 9.6 to 10.8. Again, African American mothers were more likely to have low birthweight babies than white or Hispanic mothers.
- The infant mortality rate is considered a key measure of overall community health and socio-economic development. Rates statewide and locally remain higher than that US, with 7 deaths per 1,000 births in North Carolina, 8.7 in Guilford County, and 9 in Greater High Point.
Earlier this year, the Foundation committed $196,218 over two years to the High Point Regional Health Foundation for a program that will include hiring a maternal navigator based at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist High Point Medical Center. The navigator will guide expectant and new mothers to the best care possible by connecting them to services within the hospital and community-based services in High Point.
“We know through evidence-based research that one-on-one programs working with expectant and new mothers are effective approaches to improving birth outcomes,” said Curtis Holloman, executive director of the Foundation. “This position will help to identify mothers who currently lack access to resources and services that will support them to have a healthy birth and baby.”
Other investments in the Healthy Beginnings initiative include Family Connects Guilford and the JustTEENS Wellness Clinic (run by the Guilford County Health Department), Nurse-Family Partnership (run by Guilford Child Development), Partnering for Healthy Parenting and Wise Guys (run by the Children’s Home Society), Parents as Teachers (run by YWCA High Point), and Ready for School, Ready for Life.
“Obviously, there is much work still to be done to improve these trends and community health as a whole,” Holloman said. “The Foundation will continue to support a holistic combination of efforts focused not only on maternal and child health, but also on social determinants of health that support healthy child development.”