Healthy Babies

Background

A child's infancy, from before birth to age six, is a very important stage of life. Healthy birth outcomes and early identification and treatment of health conditions among infants can enable children to reach their full potential. Healthy babies are more likely to develop into healthy children, which are more likely to grow up to be healthy adolescents that grow into healthy adults. This page outlines some of the key data related to the health of babies in the Greater Nashua Public Health Region (GNPHR). Some of the health indicators highlighted include: Birth Data, Infant Mortality, Infant Hospital Stay, Pre-Term and Low Birth Weight Births, Breastfeeding, and Safety. These health indicators can have a large impact on infant growth, health, and development and are an important factor in equitable societal health.   

Key Terms

Birth Rate

The number of live births per 1,000 people.

Fertility Rate

the average number of children born to women of childbearing age (15-44) each year.

Maternal Age

The age of a mother at the time of delivery.

Gestational Age

The length of time that a fetus grows inside the mother’s uterus. 

Pre-Term Birth

An infant born before 37 weeks of gestation.

Full-Term Birth

An infant is born at 39-40 weeks of gestation or after.

Healthy Babies Overview

Check out the points below for the main takeaways from this page.

• In 2019, the Hillsborough County fertility rate was 52.79 per 1,000. This number varies by maternal age and race/ethnicity. The highest fertility rate is in mother's aged 30 to 34 years (104.64 per 1,000) and mother's that are Black or African American (78.22 per 1,000) and Hispanic/Latino (74.18 per 1,000). 

• In 2018, about 3.7% of New Hampshire (NH) babies had to spend 14 days or more in the hospital at birth. About 50.1% of NH babies spent 1 to 2 days in the hospital at birth. 

• In 2018, Hillsborough County had a lower infant mortality rate (3.07 deaths per 1,000 live births) when compared to the rest of NH and the United States (U.S.).

• In 2018, 93.7% of NH moms reported ever breastfeeding, and 69% reported breastfeeding for more than 8 weeks. In regards to sleep behaviors, 92.7% of NH moms placed their baby to sleep on their backs. 

Birth

Every baby deserves a healthy start to life. 

Many factors that affect the health of a mother-to-be can also influence the growth and development of her unborn child. A mother’s age, weight, diet, and substance use (including smoking and drug and alcohol use) can cause her baby to be smaller than average at birth. Medical problems during pregnancy, such as hypertension, anemia, and diabetes, can also contribute to pre-term birth and low birth weight. Racial and ethnic disparities exist among birth outcomes for pregnant women and their babies.

Hillsborough County Birth Data Snapshot

CDC WONDER Natality Database, 2019

Birth rates, total births, and fertility rates are some of the most basic measures in population level statistics. Tracking these measures can give us insight into changing population sizes and needs for the future. The birth rate and fertility rate in Hillsborough county is lower when compared to the rest of the United States. The U.S. birth rate is 11.6 per 1,000 population and the U.S. fertility rate is 59.1 births per 1000 women aged 15-44 years (CDC WONDER, 2018). Neither the U.S. or Hillsborough county is experiencing a birth rate appropriate for replacement level, indicating that population sizes will decrease. Maternal and gestational age can be good indicators of both maternal and infant health. 

Infant Mortality

Infant mortality is the death of an infant before his or her first birthday, according to the CDC. The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. In addition to providing key information about maternal and infant health, the IMR is an important marker of the overall health of a society. In 2016 the IMR in Hillsborough County was 3.07 compared to 3.67 in NH overall and 5.87 throughout the U.S. IMR varies across different race and ethnicities with the highest rates (10.8) occurring amongst Non-Hispanic black Americans.

Infant Hospital Stay 

Infant hospital stay at birth can be a good indication of the health of the baby at birth. The longer the hospital stay, the more likely the baby was experiencing complications. In NH, only 3.7% of infants spent more than 14 days in the hospital after birth, while 50.1% spent one to two days in the hospital after birth.  

Birth Weight

Birth weight is used as an indicator of both individual and population health. A child's birth weight is one of the main determinants of perinatal and infant mortality and plays a role in child and adult health, as it is associated with childhood growth and development. Babies with low birth weight (less than 5 lbs 8 oz) or very low birth weight (less than 3 lbs 4 oz) are at increased risk for infant mortality or future health complications.

Pre-Term Births

A full-term birth is preferred because it allows the growing fetus enough time and nourishment to develop their full health potential. Pre-term babies may experience problems such as visual and hearing impairments, developmental delays, and behavioral and emotional issues due to their size and degree of gestational development.

Breastfeeding

The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breast milk help protect babies from illness. 

This protection is unique and changes every day to meet a baby’s growing needs. Breastfeeding benefits both the mother and baby by reducing a baby's risk of illness and helping mothers heal following childbirth. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least the first year of life and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for at least the first two years of life.

In NH, 93.7% of mothers reported ever breastfeeding while 69% reported breastfeeding for more than eight weeks. The most commonly reported reasons for stopping breastfeeding were because the milk did not satisfy the baby, they did not produce enough milk, or the baby had difficulties latching. According to the CDC, only one in four infants in the U.S. are exclusively breastfed for six months. 

Breastfeeding Support

While there are challenges to breastfeeding, some of the health benefits include for infants: reduced rates of asthma, obesity, and type 1 diabetes, and for mothers: lower risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and ovarian cancer. Mothers struggling with challenges due to breastfeeding can consult breastfeeding support through classes and lactation clinics. Find some of the local support available here:

Infant Safety

The safety of infants is an important issue to ensure the health and well-being of a child. 

While new parents have their hands full, protecting their child is an important priority. There are a variety of safety measures that can be taken to ensure the health of a child, including the use and proper installation of a certified infant car seat, reducing potential hazards in the car, including smoking of passengers in the car the baby most often rides in, and proper methods of sleep safety.

Car Safety

Car safety is a critical component of infant safety and it is important to keeping infants healthy and safe. In 2019, the vast majority of NH mothers reported safe practices when it came to babies in the car. As shown in the table “Babies in the Car”, 99.8% of women reported having an infant car seat and 99.7% reported not allowing smoking in the car in which the baby rides.

Sleep Safety

The table “Sleep Behaviors” shows that in 2018, 92.7% of NH mothers reported putting their infant to sleep on their back and only 4.3% reported placing them with toys, cushions, or pillows. Some of the Sleep Safety tips outlined by the CDC include; placing the baby on its back, using a firm, flat surface, keeping the baby in the same room as the caregiver, and keeping toys, blankets, etc. out of the sleep area. These behaviors are important to promote for optimal infant safety to promote a safe sleep environment. 

Health Equity & Healthy Babies

A person's health can be seriously impacted by their race, ethnicity, gender, income level, education, and other socioeconomic factors. In regards to healthy babies...

• African Americans have 2.3 times the infant mortality rate as non-Hispanic whites (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health).

• African American infants are 3.8 times as likely to die from complications related to low birthweight as compared to non-Hispanic white infants (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health).

• African Americans had over twice the sudden infant death syndrome mortality rate as non-Hispanic whites, in 2017 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health).

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