Healthy population key to healthy babies

By Diane Carman

Healthy babies come from healthy moms. So, in a groundbreaking change, the nations leading advocates for infants are focusing on the overall health of potential parents.

For the first time, we have begun to move toward thinking about the health of people, said Scott Matthews, spokesman for the Colorado Chapter of the March of Dimes.

How healthy are teenagers and women of child-bearing age? How can we work toward healthy citizens?

Its not good enough to wait until women are pregnant to begin focusing on their health, Matthews said. Fifty percent of pregnancies are unplanned, so we need to make sure the population as a whole is in good health.

That means addressing issues of nutrition, obesity and access to health care.

The March of Dimes is also charting a new course to actively combat elective inductions before 39 weeks gestation. That is just one of dozens of issues raised in the March of Dimes new report, Toward Improving the Outcome of Pregnancy III.

The 139-page document catalogs trends in perinatal and prenatal care, improvements in treatment for high-risk infants and ways to promote equity in pregnancy outcomes, among other topics.

As its title suggests, the report is the third in a series. The first of its kind was published in 1976. Its lead author was the late Dr. L. Joseph Butterfield of Denver, pioneer in the field of neonatology. Toward Improving the Outcome of Pregnancy II was released in 1993.

These are really important initiatives, Matthews said.