The Healthy Start Initiative of the Department of Public Health and Wellness has been awarded a five-year $4.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Healthy Start works to reduce infant mortality, the rate at which babies die before their first birthday, and to improve the health of newborns in five west Louisville ZIP Codes – 40203, 40208, 40210, 40211 and 40212. The infant mortality rate in these neighborhoods is more than double the overall rate in Louisville.
From 2013 – 2015 the overall infant mortality rate in the five Healthy Start ZIP Codes was 11.12 deaths per 100,000 live births for all babies and 13.68 for African American babies. This compared to a rate of 5.30 for the overall Louisville area. Among participants in the Healthy Start program for this same period, however, the average yearly infant mortality rate was 1.13, well below the city average.
“The ZIP Code that a baby is born into should not determine how long she will live or how healthy he will be,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “From the very beginning, my administration has been committed to making Louisville a healthier, more compassionate city that promotes life-long learning. This grant from the federal government is helping us to achieve this. Thanks to Congressman John Yarmuth for his continued work on behalf of our children and their families.”
“The Healthy Start program has the power to save lives and promote healthy families, and I’m so glad this important federal funding is coming home to Louisville,” said Congressman John Yarmuth. “It has been my honor to lead efforts to fund Healthy Start in the budget each year, and I’m proud to see that Louisville has become a national success story in ensuring that our children have the best possible chance at a life well-lived.”
Begun in Louisville in 1998, the Louisville Healthy Start program has served more than 10,000 children and their families, more than 800 last year alone. The program promotes safe pregnancies by visiting the homes of pregnant women both before and after the birth of the child to ensure that women have early and continuous access to prenatal care, that they keep all their prenatal appointments and that newborns reach developmental milestones. Other family support services include the WIC nutritional program, parenting classes, childhood immunizations, physical and mental health screenings and special fatherhood trainings.
The percentage of Healthy Start families in which fathers play an active role has increased from 14% in 2013 to 77% in 2015. During the same period the percentage of mothers breastfeeding their children at six months rose from 50% to 75%.
“The future prosperity of any society depends on its ability to foster the health and wellbeing of the next generation,” said Dr. Caloia, medical director of the Department of Public Health and Wellness. “When a society invests wisely in children and families, the next generation will pay that back through a lifetime of productivity and engagement. We are deeply grateful to be one of only 100 cities in the country to receive these funds. This helps us in achieving our mission of having a city where everyone and every community thrives.”
For more information about Healthy Start visit https://louisvilleky.gov or 502 Fathers or call 502.574.MOM1 (6661). To see how Healthy Start and many other partners in the Healthy Babies Louisville Coalition are working to foster healthy, thriving families, visit www.healthybabieslou.org.