Message from Healthy Start
Project Director
The birth of a child is an event to be celebrated. But for many right here in St. Louis, a healthy infant that will live to see his or her first birthday will not be a reality. If you think that this is someone else’s problem, understand that babies are dying in our own back yard. Right here in St. Louis, African American babies are four times more likely to die before their first birthday than any other racial group. This is unacceptable!

There is hope, and you can help. With proper prenatal care, our community can help stem the tide of infant death, and babies being born too early and too small. We at the St. Louis Healthy Start Program are targeting our efforts where they are needed the most – three zip codes within St. Louis where the infant death rate is unacceptably high. Our teams of nurses, community outreach moms and other professionals are in the community making sure that mothers-to-be, new babies and families are on the right track for a healthy outcome. You can help us in our efforts by:

•Learning more about the factors that cause our babies to die
•Educating your families and friends about this issue
•Getting involved in your community to address these issues head on
•Speaking out and telling us what you think the problems are so that we can do our jobs better

We are working harder than ever to help babies get off to a healthy start. Won’t you please join us in our efforts to ensure a Healthy Start for all our babies in St. Louis.

Click here to email questions or to sign up for Healthy Start.
About Healthy Start Advisory Council

The Healthy Start Advisory Council (HSAC) serves as our Healthy Start project’s consortium. Its goal is to ensure that at least 50% of the consortium membership consists of program participants and their families and significant others (we define as consumers). Community members from a variety of backgrounds, such as local health departments, faith organizations, mental health providers, and FQHCs, also serve on the HSAC. Consumers, primarily family members and partners of program participants, and program participants regularly engage not only in regular HSAC monthly meetings, but consistently attend and play active roles on the two major committees of the HSAC: education and policy and advocacy. Further, one consumer also has begun to serve on the MCFHC education committee of the MCFHC Board of Directors.

Formal Operations
The HSAC has agreed as a whole to not use a hierarchical method of governance, meaning that there are no officers, and the organization uses a lateral line for communications. Decisions are reached by consensus. As such, there are no formal by-laws by which the consortium operates, but rather clear definitions of roles, responsibilities, and expectations of each. The group reviews these at monthly meetings.

The Education committee, whose role is to plan and execute community-level education events, develop a speakers’ bureau and train speakers, and to work with the Policy and Advocacy Committee (HSAC-PAC), holds monthly meetings to plan community events, and review speakers’ bureau materials. This committee is staffed by the MCFHC Education and FIMR Managers. The committee has successfully planned and held community events which include its annual holiday celebration, the Healthy Start Family Outing and is in the process of planning a block party in late summer. All events focus on providing community-level education to improve the community’s health and to raise awareness of the issues of infant mortality, low birth weight and pre-term birth.

HSAC-Policy and Advocacy Committee
The HSAC-Policy and Advocacy Committee (PAC) is staffed by the Project Director and the MCFHC Executive Director. The HSAC-PAC is charged with legislative watch and advocacy activities. As the political process is confusing for almost anyone, the Project Director and Executive Director have initially taken the lead in educating clients and community members about the process, why it is important for them to be aware, and how to become more savvy in the process. This methodology will help program participants and consumers to hone critical thinking skills and to think more broadly about the implications of proposed legislation. The PAC has set the agenda for legislative watch activities for 2007. These issues include, but are not limited to housing, Medicaid, and transportation. The purposes of legislative watch are for participants to learn how bills that are of interest to them are created, to encourage them to think critically about the language presented, so that they can raise awareness within their families and neighbors.

PAC activities have included visits with state and federal legislators to raise awareness of the issues of infant mortality, health care infrastructure, and other contributing factors that influence birth outcomes. The PAC also seeks to work with these legislators and other advocacy groups to inform and arm clients to realize their power and to become better advocates for themselves, their families, and their communities. Examples include:

*Planning town hall meetings with state legislators

*Providing clear and easy-to-understand language about proposed legislation and what it means

*Building a foundation for understanding the importance of civic engagement
About Healthy Start
St. Louis holds a sad record. Nearly 13 of every 1,000 babies born die before their first birthday. That is at least twice the national average, and worse than some developing countries. Despite all our country’s wealth and privilege, many other countries do better than St. Louis – many much better – when it comes to preventing babies form dying.

To turn these figures around, the Maternal Child and Family Health Coalition received a federal grant to develop and run the St. Louis Healthy Start Project. The Maternal Child and Family Health Coalition partners with Nurses for Newborns within the St. Louis Healthy Start Project to provide comprehensive case management to at least 100 families in zip codes 63113, 63120, and 63136. We do this by providing home visits, comprehensive prenatal and postpartum health education, referrals to community services, and assistance with many things that moms and families need to ensure a healthier outcome. Once a pregnant mom enrolls, we continue providing assistance until the child is two-years old.

Healthy Start is a national program. In St. Louis, we work with low-income moms-to-be in targeted zip codes, and link them with our community partners in North St. Louis and North St. Louis County. The program is community driven, and tailored to meet the needs of each and every client. We do this with the goal of reducing infant death rate.

The Healthy Start Project focuses on getting women into prenatal care early in the pregnancy and promotes positive prenatal health. Early entrance into prenatal care is the single most critical factor in improving birth outcomes. Participants also receive basic needs such as nutrition, housing, psychosocial support, and are put in touch with other needed services.

A unique part of the Healthy Start Project is the mentoring provided by women in the community who serve as outreach workers and home visitors, some of them former clients of the Healthy Start Project. This approach works because women respond better to women who have “walked in their shoes.”

Case management is done before and after the birth of the baby. Nurses for Newborns staff make home visits to women and their families and tailor the visit schedule according to the needs of each family. Services include depression screenings and referrals for participants, health education, nutrition counseling, help with housing and other support. The Healthy Start staff ensure that infants receive immunizations and other care, and that the mother is receiving regular preventive primary care.

Why Getting a Healthy Start is Important
Healthy Start Project is needed in St. Louis due to statistics such as these:
* Infant mortality among African-American women is four times that of white women
* Low birth weight  (babies born too small) among African-American women is more than twice that of white women
* An increase of 1/2 pound in birth weight saves $12,000-$16,000 in first-year medical expenses
* In the project area (63113, 63120 and 63136 zip codes), infant death rates exceed the state and national averages. In fact, between 1999-2001, infant death rates were 14.7 per 1,000 live births in these three zip codes. Those rates increased to 16.4 per 1,000 live births during the next three-year period.

Teenage mothers are at higher than normal risk for pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy that, if left untreated, can lead to coma and death). They are also more at risk for their babies being born too soon.
Healthy Start Newsletter
Maternal, Child and Family Health Coalition Website
Future Events and Activities
Healthy Start is beginning to work with small business in the targeted zip codes. The businesses have provided in-kind goods and services for Healthy Start events. For example, Pete’s Shur-Sav and the Honey Baked Ham Store have donated items for educational events. In recognition, Healthy Start is developing recognition placards for each business to display in prominent locations to further raise awareness. “We Do Our Part! We Support Healthy Start!” is a method for not only recognizing each business’ contribution to the project, but also raises community awareness around infant mortality.
Health Tips for Moms and Moms-to-be

Healthy ABC’s
Click on link below for more information
B Be sure to see your doctor and get prenatal care as soon as you think you're pregnant.  It's important to see your doctor regularly throughout pregnancy, so be sure to keep all your prenatal care appointments.
A Avoid exposure to toxic substances and chemicals --- such as cleaning solvents, lead and mercury, bug spray, and paint.  Pregnant women should avoid exposure to paint fumes.  
B Breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for both you and your baby.  Talk to your doctor, your family and friends, and your employer about how you choose to feed your baby and how they can support you in your decision.
I Take 30 milligrams of iron during your pregnancy as prescribed by your doctor to reduce the risk of anemia later in pregnancy.  All women of childbearing age should eat a diet rich in iron.
E Eat healthy to get the nutrients you and your unborn baby need.  Your meals should include the five basic food groups.  Each day you should get the following: 6-11 servings of grain products, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 servings of fruits, 4-6 servings of milk and milk products, 3-4 servings of meat and protein foods.  Foods low in fat and high in fiber are important to a healthy diet. 
S Saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms should be avoided while you are pregnant.  Excessive high heat may be harmful during your pregnancy.
Community Contact List
The following represents just a few of the most current listing of Healthy Start Project Providers.
For more up-to-date listings, or to add your agency, please contact
the Healthy Start Project Director at (314) 289-5684:

Child Day Care Assn.
(314) 531-1412
Human Development Corp.
(314) 613-2200
Wee Care Child Development Ctr
(314) 868-9909
(24 hour)
Housing Resource Center
(314) 802-5444
Youth Under Construction
(314) 867-3700
(24 hour)
Haven of Grace
(314) 621-6507
Hunger Hotline
(314) 726-5355
(314) 589-6410
Miracle Temple
(314) 382-1883
Human Development Corp.
(314) 613-2200
Urban League
(314) 388-0232
People’s Health Center
(314) 838-8220
Heat Up St. Louis
(314) 241-7668
People’s Health Center
(314) 367-7848
Energy Assistance
(314) 340-7600
Grace Hill Neighborhood
(314) 241-2200
United Way
(314) 421-4636
(314) 652-9231
Legal Services of Eastern Missouri
(314) 534-4200
BHR Crisis Hotline
Community Contact List
The following represents just a few of the most current listing of Healthy Start Project Providers.
For more up-to-date listings, or to add your agency, please contact
the Healthy Start Project Director at (314) 289-5684: