BCFS’ Healthy Start Teaches Families How to Keep Their Babies Safe

September is “Infant Mortality Awareness Month”

Photo: Teresa Arthur, her child, and Araceli Flores

Teresa Arthur (left) and Araceli Flores (right) smile with the Arthurs’ newest bundle of joy. Teresa, from Nigeria, and her husband, from Uganda, have lived in the colonias for two years. Teresa joined Healthy Start’s program when she was pregnant with her third daughter, the youngest of her two other girls ages 5 and 3.

In recognition of September as “Infant Mortality Awareness Month,” BCFS Health and Human Services is doing its part to raise awareness on how to have a healthy pregnancy, and safe sleep practices once babies arrive.
The organization, which serves expectant mothers and those with children younger than 2 years old living in the colonias, has awarded participation in its parenting classes by giving away new bassinets to several families in need. Parents are also connected to partner resources such as the March of Dimes, Nurse Family Partnership, and City of Laredo Health Department Maternity Clinic, which also lead initiatives to reduce infant/fetal mortality in the community.

BCFS is also hosting interactive community events aimed at boosting awareness on how to prevent infant mortality, along with a baby buggy walk, balloon release and light luncheon for families on the following day.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Webb County experiences 5.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. While not every death can be prevented, there are several ways to mitigate such tragedy. Factors that contribute to infant deaths include poverty, limited access to health care, stress, and diet and nutrition.

“Having a healthy baby begins first with a healthy pregnancy,” said Araceli Flores, RN, BCFS Health and Human Services director. “Learning about safety can ease new parent nerves, while also ensuring that our little ones grow and thrive.”

The infant mortality rate is an estimate of the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. The CDC uses infant mortality rate as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a nation, because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also affect infant mortality rates.

Since 2001, BCFS’ Healthy Start program in Laredo has provided medical care and case management to residents in the colonias along the U.S. border with Mexico. This continuum of care extends beyond the welfare of newborns and includes mothers, fathers, and families – essentially the whole community.

For more information about BCFS’ border health initiatives, please visit DiscoverBCFS.net/HealthyStart.