"Preterm births are a growing public health problem that has significant consequences for families well into a child’s life," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The Strong Start initiative will help give expectant mothers the care they need for a healthy delivery and a healthy baby."
More than half a million infants are born prematurely in America each year, a trend that has skyrocketed by 36 percent over the last 20 years. Children born preterm require additional medical attention and often require early intervention services or special education. Some have resultant conditions that may affect their productivity as adults.
To tackle this problem, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation will award grants to healthcare providers and coalitions to improve prenatal care to women covered by Medicaid. The grants will support the testing of enhanced prenatal care through several approaches under evaluation, including through group visits with other pregnant women, at birth centers providing case management, and at maternity care homes where pregnant women have expanded access to better coordinated, enhanced prenatal care.
"The recognition of the work of midwifery model birth centers in reducing the numbers of pre term births, low birth weight infants and cesarean sections which was effected by Secretary Sebelius' choosing the Developing Families Center for the launch of the Strong Start initiative is wonderful to contemplate and pays homage to the AABC membership's years of effort." said Ruth Lubic, CNM, EdD, founder of the Developing Families Center and co-founder of the American Association of Birth Centers.