All newborns deserve to grow and develop in good health. Babies who are born healthy and who are well-cared for have the best opportunity to thrive, get a strong start in life and a solid foundation for future academic, social and emotional skills. Healthy infancy and childhood begins with healthy mothers, and women’s health before pregnancy is a strong predictor of the quality of health a newborn baby or infant will have once they are born. A woman who enters pregnancy in good health has the best possible chance of a safe delivery and of giving birth to a healthy baby. Alternatively, a woman who lacks access to insurance or suffers from poor health is at greater risk for medical complications that cause adverse birth outcomes including birth defects, preterm delivery or low birthweight—the three leading causes of infant deaths in North Carolina.
Ensuring a healthy start in life for all children in North Carolina requires intentional efforts to promote health, wellness and access to comprehensive care for women of childbearing age.
- Healthy infancy and childhood begin with healthy mothers; women’s health before, during and between pregnancies is a strong predictor of the survival and long-term health of their newborns.
- Maternal risk factors associated with infant mortality can be prevented or effectively managed with appropriate preventive care.
- In 2010, North Carolina’s infant mortality rate hit a record low, but has since increased by 6 percent over the past two years. Most of the increase occurred among African American babies.
- North Carolina has the opportunity to counteract rising infant mortality rates and reduce racial disparities in birth outcomes through Medicaid expansion. Under the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians—including 178,000 low-income women of childbearing age—would gain access to health insurance coverage.
PDF link: 2013_Healthy Women, Healthy Babies