Taking the pulse of progress toward preconception health: Preliminary assessment of a national OMH program for infant mortality prevention.

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    • Abstract:
      Infant mortality rates in the United States continue to be more than twice as high among African-Americans as Caucasians. The United States ranks 37th of 191 countries in infant mortality, well behind most industrialized and many developing countries. Preconception care has long been identified as a key intervention to improve birth outcomes. In 2007, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) launched a national program, A Healthy Baby Begins with You, to raise awareness about the disproportionately high infant mortality rates among African-Americans, and to promote preconception health behaviors as a key measure to help prevent infant mortality. This article discusses findings from an initial program assessment, focusing primarily on the peer education component. Findings highlight several factors that may aid or prevent the adoption of preconception behaviors, offer implications for program refinement, and provide useful insights for peer education and community-based communication designed to reach college and graduate students and vulnerable populations on this topic. Recurring themes within key findings include: the impact of chronic stress associated with a history of racial discrimination; the role of healthcare providers in preconception counseling; the role of men; and the significance of community involvement. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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