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To reduce rates of maternal and infant mortality, New Jersey is initiating voluntary wellness checks for families with newborn children.

Despite its wealth, the US health system ranks last in the industrialized world for its attention to maternal and infant death. Overall, approximately 18 women die per 100,000 pregnancies. In some areas of the US that rate is even higher.  In New Jersey, the death toll is higher.  More than 26 pregnant women per 100,000 dies of pregnancy or birth-related complications.

Consistent factors that set the US health system apart from countries with higher quality healthcare systems are access to health care and attention to healthcare outcomes. In the US, on average, the maternal death radio for Black women is 2.5 times higher than it is for white women, and approximately three times higher than Hispanic women.  

Dr. Vijaya Hogan, with the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health said, “For Black women, they have the worst rates in the state, the state has among the worst rates in the country, and the country has among the worst rates in the world, so that’s put us in a place where we need to focus on changing this.”

To address the needs of all post-partum pregnant women and their babies, New Jersey has enacted a new program called Nurture New Jersey.  The goal of the initiative is to reduce maternal mortality by 50 percent within five years.  The program is voluntary and aims to offer free home wellness checks within two weeks following a birth.  The wellness visits are available to families that adopt as well as those who experienced a stillborn birth. 

Other developed countries have offered home healthcare checks to new moms and babies for years.  Even with a good support network, the extra assist provided by an experienced nurse can give a new mom needed information, feedback, or validation for concerns.  Too often, post-partum follow-up visits to a PCP or OB/GYN focus solely on infant health and fail to catch developing health difficulties that may impact mom, such as heart health or mood disorders.  Home health nurses can also connect moms with community and other needed resources.

It takes a community to raise a child—and good healthcare services to ensure mom thrives as well.

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