The Strong Start initiative

"Strong Start" is a good start

The Department of Health and Human Services launched its “Strong Start” initiative yesterday–more than $40 million in renewable grants aimed at reducing preterm births and improving outcomes for newborns and pregnant women.

What makes this initiative different and exciting is that it targets early elective deliveries–that’s right, HHS is out to reduce inductions and cesareans before 39 weeks unless there’s a clear reason to do them, a nod to the complications and expense associated with preterm birth. The initiative also promotes innovative prenatal care practices.

From the Strong Start initiative:

“Reducing the rate of early elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks ensures that more mothers receive safe, evidence-based care, and improves the prospects for good physical and developmental health for infants. It also reduces costs by safely reducing preventable C-section rates, neonatal intensive care admissions and other associated complications.”

In addition to targeting early elective births, the initiative will focus on reducing the rate of preterm births for women covered by Medicaid. Again, from the initiative, this will include:

  • Group prenatal care that incorporates peer-to-peer interaction in a facilitated setting for health assessment, education, and provides psycho-social support.
  • Comprehensive prenatal care facilitated by teams of health professionals including peer counselors and doulas.  Services include collaborative practice, intensive case management, counseling and psycho-social support.
  • Enhanced prenatal care including psychosocial support, education, and health promotion in addition to traditional prenatal care. Services provided will expand access to care, improve care coordination and provide a broader array of health services.

I know, there’s a lot of grant-speak in there–I’ll try to clarify some of that in upcoming posts. But the exciting part is that Health and Human Services (plus a lot of other organizations – see below) is looking to promote programs that go far beyond the way we’ve done prenatal care in the past.

Here’s the roster of groups working together on Strong Start:

This initiative is a joint effort between the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Administration on Children and Families (ACF), and outside groups devoted to the health of mothers and newborns such as the March of Dimes, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the National Partnership for Women and Families, the Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine, American College of Nurse Midwives, Childbirth Connection, Leapfrog Group, the National Priorities Partnership convened by the National Quality Forum and others.

More to come…


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Filed under Cesareans, Maternal-child health

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