Six Delaware Community-Based Organizations Receive Mini-Grants to Reduce Infant and Maternal Mortality

Six Delaware Community-Based Organizations Receive Mini-Grants to Reduce Infant and Maternal Mortality

To reduce disparate birth outcomes and save the lives of both infants and their mothers, the Division of Public Health (DPH) and the Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium (DHMIC) awarded mini-grants to six community organizations. The local grant recipients were announced today during the DHMIC’s quarterly meeting in Dover.

The state’s first mini-grants to reduce infant and maternal mortality aim to narrow the wide variance in birth outcomes between black women and white women by building state and local capacity and testing small-scale innovative strategies. The awards are evidence-based, as DPH’s Healthy Women Healthy Babies program identified communities, or “zones,” whose residents are at high risk for poor birth outcomes. Grant recipients will provide targeted services within the zones to women of childbearing age (15-44 years), children, and their families. Awardees will support community-led place-based initiatives and shift the impact of social determinants of health that are tied to the root causes of infant mortality: poverty, racism, health access, food insecurity, housing, and having a good job and a good education, all of which affect mothers and children.

“Members of the DHMIC are delighted to see resources being spent in the communities where women with disparate birth outcomes reside,” said Susan Noyes, DHMIC Co-Chair. “With our shift in priorities to address the social determinants of health, we believe we are on the right track in Delaware to improve birth outcomes.”

“Infant mortality is a leading health indicator to measure how healthy Delaware is,” said Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “By investing resources in communities to ensure women receive necessary supports before, during and after their pregnancy, we not only promote and protect the health of mothers and babies, but also ensure a stronger, healthier Delaware.”

More than twice as many black infants in Delaware die before their first birthday than white infants, according to DPH Vital Statistics data. For the period 2014-2018, Delaware’s black infant mortality rate is 12.2 deaths per 1,000 live births and the white infant mortality rate is 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2017, the U.S. black infant mortality rate was 10.97 per 1,000 live births and the white infant mortality rate was 4.67 per 1,000 live births.

“While we have seen a 22% reduction in our infant mortality rates from 2000-2018, babies born to black women are still 2.7 times more likely to die than babies born to white women,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Using data, we identified geographic areas in Delaware with high infant mortality rates and are focusing our attention to offering needed services in these defined ZIP codes to address this unconscionable disparity.”

Racial disparities in birth outcomes extend to mothers. In the U.S., black women die from pregnancy-related complications three to four times as often as white women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Reproductive Health. In Delaware, severe maternal morbidity rose by 37 percent between 2010 and 2014, according to the Delaware Child Death Review Commission’s Maternal Mortality Review Report, which reviewed cases from 2011 to 2017. Risk factors for pregnancy-related complications include obesity, pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, and substance use disorder, all of which are on the rise among Delaware women of reproductive age.

“I know firsthand of the challenges that women of color face during pregnancy, having endured complications during both my pregnancies. We must address the social determinants that affect maternal health outcomes, which is why it was critical that the community itself was part of the selection process for these grants,” said Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, D-New Castle South, who distributed the award certificates to grantees at the meeting. “We have high expectations for this work to promote systems changes for Delawareans to achieve optimum health and well-being across the course of their lives.”

Grant funds totaling $327,925 were awarded to the community organizations for a one-year period. DPH and DHMIC will review the projects annually and have the option of renewing them for up to four additional years. Available funds were equitably distributed, based on the estimated number of women of reproductive age (ages 15-44) living in each Healthy Women Healthy Babies Zone, which were identified as “high need” based on several data points/indicators, including: percent of teen births; mother’s high school education; percent of births to black mothers; percent using cigarettes during pregnancy; percent of families on Medicaid; percent of women with no prenatal care; percent of mothers with pre-pregnancy diabetes; percent of mothers with gestational diabetes; percent of mothers with pre-pregnancy hypertension; percent of mothers with gestational hypertension; percent of mothers with previous preterm birth; percent of mothers who were obese; percent of mothers with a preterm birth; percent of mothers with a low birth weight baby; and percent of mothers with neonatal deaths (<28 days).

Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498

DPH Media Contact:
Jennifer Brestel
302-744-4907, Cell 302-612-6223

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