Maternal and Child Health

Background

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.

"Children are great imitators. Give them something great to imitate." -Philip Johnson

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.

Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) 

The Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiative aimed to reduce infant mortality and low birth weight. The survey collects state-specific, population-based data about maternal behaviors and experiences before, during, and after pregnancy. In New Hampshire (NH), approximately one out of every 12 mothers of newborns is selected for PRAMS. The women are randomly sampled between two and six months after giving birth. The data is weighted to reflect the entire population of NH women who have had a live birth that year. PRAMS data will be used to identify groups of women and infants at high risk for health problems, monitor changes in health status, and measure progress toward goals in improving the health of mothers and infants. Findings from PRAMS are used to enhance understanding of maternal behaviors and their relationship with adverse pregnancy outcomes. 

Maternal and Child Health Work Group

Data from the 2017 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. For more information or to get involved, click the button below.

Households in Greater Nashua

In 2018, it was reported that approximately 29% of children in Hillsborough County were living in single-parent households. Adults and children living in single-parent households are at greater risk for adverse health outcomes. Strong family and social supports can greatly help to protect physical and mental health as well as facilitate healthy behaviors and decision making. Children grown in safe and nurturing families and neighborhoods, free from maltreatment and other social problems, are more likely to have better outcomes as adults. 

Looking Ahead 

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. Access to programs, services, and quality care play an important role in improving women’s health and economic stability before, during, and after pregnancy. Organizations should consider looking at variables that may create barriers to patients accessing services such as lack of insurance, transportation, or language and cultural differences. Collaborative efforts throughout the GNPHR are of paramount importance to the health and quality of life for mothers their babies. 

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