Maternal and Child Health Priority
The health of women and children is vital to creating a healthy world.
Maternal health is the health of a woman during her pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period, making it an important predictor of newborn health. Children's health is the physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being of children from infancy all the way through adolescence.
Many factors affect maternal and child health, including race and ethnicity, age, income level, educational attainment, medical insurance coverage, access to medical care, pre-pregnancy health, and general health status. The well-being of infants, children, and mothers determines the health of our next generation and can help predict future public health challenges for families, communities, and the healthcare system.
Health behaviors and health status before a woman is pregnant can be influenced by a variety of environmental and social factors, such as access to medical care and chronic stress. Some of these factors can affect and compound others, creating a rippling effect. For instance, factors ranging from age to medical insurance coverage affect a woman’s general health status; a woman’s health status, in turn, directly influences her risk of pregnancy complications and her child’s cognitive and physical development.
Maternal and Child Health Workgroup
Data from the 2020 Greater Nashua Community Health Assessment (CHA) reported that maternal and child health is a top priority for the Greater Nashua Public Health Region (GNPHR). Through the 2018-2021 Greater Nashua Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), the Greater Nashua Maternal and Child Health Work Group was created with the goal to increase education and awareness of resources for maternal and child physical and behavioral health in the GNPHR. This workgroup is now called the Smart Start Coalition. For more information or to get involved, click the button below.
Main takeaways from the Maternal and Child Health CHA 2020 page
• In 2018, 93.7% of NH moms reported ever breastfeeding, and 69% reported breastfeeding for more than 8 weeks. According to the CDC, only one in four infants in the U.S. are exclusively breastfed for six months.
• Children in the GNPHR are at increased risk of high blood lead levels, as 17% of homes were built before 1950, and 10.8% of six year olds are living below the federal poverty level.
• In 2018, 7.5% of pregnant women in NH smoked cigarettes in their last three months of pregnancy, and 5.9% used marijuana or hash during their pregnancy.
• In 2018, 14.9% of women in NH received follow-up care for depression after giving birth, and 13% women were diagnosed with depression after giving birth.
• Approximately 4.6% of Nashua youth (aged 6-18) are uninsured.
For a full look at Maternal and Child Health in Greater Nashua, check out the MCH 2020 Community Health Assessment page here.
Assets & Gaps Assessment
The Maternal and Child Health assessment was sent out to community partners and parents in June 2021 and closed in August 2021.
There were 24 providers and 16 families from the Greater Nashua Public Health Region that responded to this assessment.
Maternal & Child Health Priority Areas
Community partners were asked to rank the priority areas that they believed were most important for the Greater Nashua Public Health Region to work on. The rank of 10 corresponds to the highest priority area.
Collectively, the main priorities under Maternal and Child Health include:
1) Improve access and availability of universal screenings
2) Support access to affordable healthcare and referrals for families
3) Support children's social & emotional
development through easily accessible services & supports
4) Improve access and supports for healthy nutrition
5) Increase the capacity of all families to advocate for themselves and their children
Maternal & Child Health Programs & Services
Community partners were asked to identify what existing Maternal and Child Health programs their organization currently has in order to avoid duplication of efforts. Partners were also asked what MCH services are needed in the Greater Nashua Public Health Region.
In an open response question, community partners were asked to identify barriers to receiving Maternal and Child Health services. Partners were also asked if they had adequate staff available to run their MCH programs.
In an open response question, community partners were asked to discuss how their organization addresses issues of health equity, access to care and social determinants of health. Partners were also asked what specific efforts their organization makes to reach the Black, Indigenous and other Peoples of Color (BIPOC) population.
I believe there needs to be trust built between people working to provide services and those who might need them. I also think there needs to be more of a process to ensure this relationship building practice does not fall on a few people, but in practices which are more sustainable.
-- Community Organization
The Strategy Map below links to detailed objectives, data and programming details for Maternal and Child Health. Click on an objective to see the details about who is leading programming efforts and contact information, so your organization can get involved.
Childbirth is a life-defining experience for many women and their families, and having healthy babies is vitally important, not only for them but for the welfare of the entire community. Healthy birth outcomes and early identification and treatment of health conditions among infants can enable children to reach their full potential. The economic circumstances into which mothers give birth can greatly affect both the mother’s chances of having a healthy pregnancy and her baby’s chances of getting off to a healthy start. Access to programs, services, and quality care play an important role in improving women’s health and economic stability before, during, and after pregnancy. Collaborative efforts throughout the GNPHR are of paramount importance to the health and quality of life for mothers and babies. It is important to establish and strengthen collaboration among communities, public and private non-profit agencies, as well as federal, state, and local governments.