Originally Released: March 20, 2000
Contact: Ellen Beth Levitt, email@example.com, 410-328-8919
Maryland has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation. According to the March of Dimes, Maryland ranks 41st out of the 50 states in infant survival. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that for every 1,000 babies born in Maryland, nine infants die within their first year of life. That number is higher in Baltimore, where approximately 12 infants die for every 1,000 babies born. In addition, nearly nine percent of the 72,000 infants born each year in Maryland are born with low birth weight, which is almost twice the national average.
To improve the chances for Baltimore-area newborns, the University of Maryland Medical System is teaming up with the March of Dimes and the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority to open a community-based, prenatal health program called Stork's Nest. The program will serve the women of West Baltimore at the UniversityCare Center in the Edmondson Village Shopping Center. A dedication ceremony and check presentation was held on Monday, March 13 from 10 a.m. until 12 noon. Giant Foods, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim Inc. donated $33,000 which will help pay for educators and supplies for the Stork's Nest.
The Stork's Nest is an incentive-based education program, designed to promote healthy behavior among women during pregnancy. Women will be encouraged to participate in prenatal care, educational classes, and well-baby appointments following the birth of their child.
"With good prenatal care and healthy lifestyle choices before and after delivery, many serious problems can be prevented," says Hugh Mighty, M.D., chief of OB/GYN at the University of Maryland Medical Center and interim chairman of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Services at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Women who participate in the program will receive "points" for each healthy step that they complete. Healthy lifestyle choices such as breast feeding, quitting smoking and substance abuse, partner involvement with the pregnancy and child rearing, and other parenting skills will be rewarded. The women can then "spend" their points in the Stork's Nest shop on diapers, clothes, car safety seats and other essential baby care items. Women who participate can also use an on-site resource library and speak with a certified health care educator for further information and referrals to community resources.
"We are very excited by the Stork's Nest program," says Devora Whiting, case manager for OBGYN Services at the University of Maryland Medical Center and chairperson of the Stork's Nest Program for the Baltimore Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. "This program empowers women and gives them the care, education, and the resources they need to deliver healthy babies," adds Whiting.
The Stork's Nest is a cooperative national project of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. It was established in 1971 and has over 100 "nests" nationwide.
"The March of Dimes is looking forward to working with the University of Maryland for our newest Stork's Nest. Together, we will help reduce infant mortality here in Maryland," says Tracy Hart, executive director of the March of Dimes, Central Maryland Chapter.
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