GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- A new study ranks North Carolina among the worst states across the nation to have a child.
The Wallet Hub study said North Carolina ranks 10th from the bottom. It looked at affordability of having a child, access to health care and key infant health statistics.
North Carolina has traditionally seen high rates of low birth weight and infant mortality rate, which tracks how often children less than a year old die. The national average for infant deaths is 6.14 per 1,000 births. In North Carolina the infant mortality rate is 7.4.
For the last 14 years, The Guilford Child Development group has tried to help improve those numbers though the Nurse-Family Partnership. The program helps at-risk women in the Triad through their first pregnancy.
When Tashiana Reynolds learned she was pregnant last year she didn’t think she had much support until she found help through the program.
“I'm in college so they help me with child care, that way I don't have to worry about dropping out and the future for me and my child,” said Reynolds.
The help began about 28 weeks before Reynolds gave birth. Participants are paired with nurses who help the mother prepare for pregnancy with prenatal care education.
Mishawne Carrington, director of the nurse program, says mothers are encouraged to stop drinking and smoking and start taking folic acid. The say a healthy mother generally delivers a healthy baby, which decreases the chances of a death in the first year.
Nurses visit with mothers and their child twice a month through the first two years of a child’s life.
“The results are unbelievable,” said Robin Britt, executive director of Guilford Child Development. “Abuse and neglect are reduced by 42 percent according to three randomized trials.”
There have also been lower rates of babies being born underweight according to Britt even though Guilford County out still outpaced the state in early child deaths in 2013.
Health industry leaders applaud the program because it gives young women access to education and resources that they may not be able to afford without the help.
“We want women to not hesitate in starting prenatal care because they're not sure how they're going to pay for it,” said Sue Pedaline, a nursing supervisor with the Women’s Center at Moses Cone Hospital.
Nurses and doctors at the hospital also focus on educating parents about how infants sleep. Pedaline said always use a nearly empty crib, lay a child on their back and never allow baby to sleep in a bed with you.
Referrals from hospitals and the health department help the Nurse-Family Partnership serve around 100 mothers every year. Reynolds said she’s learned a lot from the program and hopes it continues to help other young mothers.
She dismisses the poor state ranking for women in her shoes.
“I think that North Carolina has a lot of programs out there to help you if you need help and it's just up to you to go out and seek it,” said Reynolds.