National Prematurity Awareness Month

Healthy Cleveland Initiative's Healthy Neighborhoods subcommittee and MomsFirst partnered to talk to moms that have lost a baby due to prematurity.

Premature birth (a birth prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy) is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. Fortunately, though, premature birth rates are on the decline, affecting roughly 9.6% of births. That number changes when premature birth rates are considered by race. Non-Hispanic black women are more likely than non-Hispanic white women to deliver premature babies. Research suggests that toxic stress, which disproportionately affects black women, is a contributing factor.

The Healthy Neighborhoods subcommittee of the Healthy Cleveland Initiative ( has been exploring the ways in which the social determinants of health (such as poverty, poor quality schools, food insecurity, under or unemployment, racism, etc.) contribute to a person's stress level, and how that stress level can affect a birth outcome.

On November 16th, a representative from the Healthy Neighborhoods committee and a representative from MomsFirst sat down with three women that have been touched by MomsFirst (2 participants and 1 Community Health Worker) that have lost a baby (or in one participant's case, two babies) due to prematurity.

Many of the themes the committee has been discussing for months bubbled to the surface during the 2 hour conversation in which each mom took a turn sharing her story. Those themes will be explored in much more depth at the next committee meeting, with this effort culminating in a public awareness campaign using a mother's voice. What was abundantly clear throughout the discussion was that no mother should have to bury her child and the loss robs the world of what the child could have been.

"Taco", the son of MomsFirst Community Health Worker, Jennifer Jones, who passed away at 10.5 months old after being born 3 months premature.

"Taco", the son of MomsFirst Community Health Worker, Jennifer Jones, who passed away at 10.5 months old after being born 3 months premature.

Pregnant women need support from everyone in the family and community. If you're pregnant, be sure to see a doctor for regular prenatal care and seek help for any issues that might be causing you stress. There is help available, no matter what you're going through. Call 211 if you're unsure where to turn. If you know someone who is pregnant, cook her a healthy meal, offer to babysit if she has other children, drive her to a doctor appointment,  ask her what she needs help with, etc.

Stay tuned for more to come on this topic, especially as the awareness campaign kicks off in 2017. For more information on how to support pregnant women in your area, visit

Every baby born into society is our baby. We share in everything that goes well for them and everything that does not.
— Charlotte Wilen, Infant Health Advocate