Guilford County health leaders outline early plans to curb high infant mortality rate

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — After more than 30 years of a higher than state-wide average, Guilford County health leaders hope to find a salutation to the county’s infant mortality rate.

The current rate for the county is .93 percent, which is among the top in the state.

In the early 1990s, the county created a coalition to specifically study this concern, and find ways to address it.

Fast-forward to 2020, and the rate has held steady, but high, despite programs being available.

In early April, DHHS leaders and those with the Infant Mortality Coalition presented a new strategy to county commissioners.

In that presentation, they addressed that education is one of the biggest areas of focus that needs to be addressed and that it’s not the family’s fault for not seeking help, it’s that the county is failing in getting those individuals plugged in with the right help.

The strategy, in theory, will play out over five years and will cost roughly $890,000.

Among the strategies are:

  • Addressing systemic racism and implicit bias – this is because zip codes that have the highest infant mortality rates also face food, economic, and health disparities.
  • Inclusive community engagement – this will include surveying mothers who have lost a child at birth, or shortly after due to health complications.
  • Continuum of care of reproductive health – this will include education for mothers from preconception to prenatal, to inter-conception care. This could also include partnering with hospitals and health care facilities to use mobile clinics to serve mothers who live in communities that face disparities.
  • To promote infant wellness and positive child development all before the child is born. The money for this would have to be approved by Guilford County Commissioners. They have asked for the coalition to come up with a full breakdown of their plans before any funds are approved.

To see the full presentation, and hear the department’s presentation, click here.

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