Holmes County with highest percentage in infancy death

Healthy Start Bonifay Kiwanis

Representative Missy Lee from the Chipola Healthy Start Program was guest speaker at this week’s Bonifay Kiwanis Club to discuss the services provided through their non-profit organization.

Cecilia Spears
Published: Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 01:43 PM.

BONIFAY — Representative Missy Lee from the Chipola Healthy Start program informed those attending the Bonifay Kiwanis Club on March 12 that Holmes County had the highest infancy mortality rate in the State of Florida, however they are trying to reduce those numbers through the Chipola Healthy Start Program.

“Since 1991 our main goal has been to decrease infant mortality, decrease number of preterm births and decrease the number of low birth weight deliveries,” said Lee. “As a community-based, community-driven program we serve as the Maternal and Child Health advocate for pregnant women and young children. We are a volunteer program that offers care coordination and educational services to pregnant women, infants and children under the age of three, funded through a local, non-profit corporation.”

She said some common misunderstandings needed to be cleared, saying that Healthy Start is not “an income-based program, welfare program or a health department initiative.”

“By law every physician in the state of Florida is required to offer Healthy Start Screening to all pregnant women and their babies and by initialing ‘yes’ to being screened on the Healthy Start Prenatal Risk Screen women will know within minutes if they or their baby have any potential health risks,” said Lee. “Even if the mother doesn’t have problems or the desire to use Healthy Start Programs, completing the Healthy Start screen at their doctor or midwife’s office will be helpful in gathering data and funding necessary to improve the system of call for all moms and babies in Northwest Florida.”

Healthy Start “saves lives and money,” she said.

“According to the Florida Department of Health research studies, the Healthy Start Program screening process is effective in identifying risk for delivering a low birth weight or preterm infant,” said Lee. “Holmes County has the highest infancy mortality rate in the state of Florida and you ask why are they dying. The answer is seriously smoking is causing the low birth weight and mortality rate.”

She said in order to have healthier babies there must be healthier mothers.

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