Grant Aims to Reduce Preterm Births in Los Angeles County by Improving Access to Preterm Birth Prevention Interventions and Encouraging Pregnancy Intentionality

Los Angeles, CA | Thursday, July 12, 2018

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March of Dimes has awarded Maternal and Child Health Access a one-year grant of $35,000 to support its Prematurity Prevention project. This grant is aimed at improving maternal and child health by addressing the increasing preterm birth rates and barriers to premature birth prevention interventions, especially among low-income, women of color in Los Angeles County. According to The National Center for Health Statistics, this year marks the third consecutive increase in preterm births after steady declines over the previous seven years. Among non-Hispanic black women and Hispanic women, the preterm birth rate increase was even greater. March of Dimes is collaborating with local community-based health programs to expand evidence-based programs to address this alarming trend.

“We will use the March of Dimes’ grant to train our staff to screen women in our program for preterm birth risk, discuss their pregnancy intentions, and help them achieve healthy births by reducing barriers to preterm birth prevention interventions and through education,” said Lynn Kersey, Executive Director of Maternal and Child Health Access. “We are thankful for this grant which increases our ability to provide referrals and support around clinical interventions such as low-dose aspirin for women at risk for preeclampsia or progesterone shots for women who have had a prior preterm baby.  Kersey continues, “We will also train our staff to ask the simple question ‘Would you like to become pregnant in the next year?’ then depending on the answer, women will be offered essential preconception care and reproductive health services.”

“We know an investment in community-based projects, provides a large health return in improving the health of women and their babies, especially among high-risk groups,” says Diana E. Ramos, MD, MPH, and March of Dimes State Maternal Child Health Committee Chair. “Spacing pregnancies at least 18 months apart and addressing medical complications developed during pregnancy has the potential to improve birth outcomes and reduce premature birth rates.

Thirty-nine percent of all pregnancies in California occur less than 18 months after the birth of a child. Interpregnancy spacing (the time between the end of one pregnancy and the beginning of the next one) of less than 18 months is associated with higher rates of premature birth, low birth weight, neonatal complications, neonatal death and maternal complications, with very short pregnancy spacing (<6 months) carrying the greatest risk.

There is a two-fold increase in early preterm births among women with very short pregnancy spacing of fewer than 6 months.“1

1 Cofer FG, Fridman M, Lawton E, Korst LM, Nicholas  L, Gregory KD. Interpregnancy Interval and childbirth outcomes in California, 2007-2009. Matern Child Health J. November 2016; 20(1):S43-S51.

Maternal and Child Health Access improves the health of low-income pregnant women and families through advocacy, education, services and training. Our home visitation and perinatal case management programs work with thousands of pregnant women annually and our health coverage assistance helps ensure adequate coverage.

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.

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