New initiative aims to reduce low-weight and preterm births in Colorado |

New initiative aims to reduce low-weight and preterm births in Colorado

— A new two-year initiative will aim to reduce the number of pre-term births and low-weight births at hospitals across Colorado.

The “Safe Deliveries Colorado” initiative is a partnership of the Colorado Hospital Association, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Colorado, March of Dimes and the Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative.

The program will use $580,000 from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to provide education, quality improvement resources and data analytics to support hospitals.

Yampa Valley Medical Center and 50 other hospitals that provide birthing services across the state have been invited to participate.

Low birth weights and babies born preterm are ongoing concerns for medical providers in Colorado, where 8.8 percent of babies were born with a weight under 5 pounds, 8 ounces in 2013, according to the 2015 Kids Count in Colorado report.

State data also shows that 10.3 percent of babies born in 2013 were born preterm, at least three weeks before the typical 40 weeks of pregnancy.

At the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, numerous steps are already being taken to support women and help them to have healthy, full-term pregnancies, including the Women, Infants and Children program, according to WIC program director and registered dietician Arin Daigneau.

“In WIC we provide nutrition assessments, prenatal weight gain monitoring, nutrition education, health care referrals, encourage healthy lifestyles and provide healthy foods to our pregnant participants so they can have the healthiest pregnancy and baby possible,” Daigneau said. “We also encourage smoking cessation and referrals to cessation resources to help our clients quit.”

The VNA’s Nurse Family Partnership Program partners nurses with first-time mothers and provides home visits and education throughout the pregnancy and the baby’s first two years of life.

Daigneau said that babies born with low birth weights or born preterm are a concern, in part, because they often don’t breastfeed well.

“These babies are small, need to feed more frequently, tire more easily while feeding and oftentimes have trouble latching to the breast,” Daigneau said. “Breastfeeding has many health and bonding benefits to both mom and baby and if breastfeeding isn’t successful, both miss out.”

According to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment statistics from 2013, there were 15 low-weight births of 193 total babies born locally that year, or about 7.8 percent. Eight of the 193 were born preterm, or 4.1 percent.

According to the Colorado Hospitals Association, preterm birth is the most significant challenge to maternal-child health in the United States, complicating about one in nine deliveries and accounting for 85 percent of all infant mortality.

“Health care costs for premature babies are nearly 12 times as high compared to babies born without complications,” said Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Colorado President Mike Ramseier, in a news release announcing Safe Deliveries Colorado. “The impact of prematurity doesn’t end at birth — babies who survive often face a lifetime of health challenges.”

Data from 2013 shows that Routt County already has a lower number of low-weight and preterm births than the Safe Deliveries Colorado target, which is no more than 7.8 percent of babies born with low weights and no more than 9.6 percent born preterm.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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