Promoting Healthier Families

in Sumter County

Maternal and infant health is family health.

Maternal and Infant Health is a vast topic, referring to the period of pregnancy and post-birth all the way through age five for new babies. While all women considering having a baby should learn about the risk factors and diseases that can affect their maternal health, of particular concern here in Sumter County is the fact that Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women are at a higher risk for death during pregnancy than other racial and ethnic groups. Whether you have a preexisting medical condition to address or not, it’s essential you discuss your personal medical history with a doctor as early as possible, so they can advise you throughout pregnancy and identify and treat any potential issues along the way.

Though Maternal and Infant Health can be a scary topic, there are specific efforts at both the state and global level to help effect change. For example, The World Health Organization has launched a campaign to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030 and to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, for family planning, information, and education, via national strategies and programs.

Here in Georgia, the state Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) identifies and reviews each case of maternal death occurring during or within a year after pregnancy. Its mission is to promote changes in healthcare systems, communities, and individuals to eliminate every preventable death.

60% of pregnancy-related deaths

in Georgia were preventable.

At least 1 location

in every county must make pregnancy tests available, regardless of county residency.

The 5th largest

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program in the country is available right here in Georgia for Women, Infants, and Children.

Maternal and infant health issues

Matters of concern for our local moms, dads, and children in Sumter County.

Poor birth outcomes

Poor pregnancy outcomes, like maternal complications and premature births, happen more often to women with reduced access to prenatal care or young moms with high-risk factors. If we as a community learn more about reproductive healthcare and family planning, we can help advise our family members and neighbors to reduce unintended pregnancies, lower infant and maternal mortality rates, and help new moms have safer deliveries.

Workforce shortages and insurance gaps

Health worker shortages and a high uninsured population in Georgia are barriers to care for pregnant women. Southwest Georgia has lost several regional obstetrical providers in recent years, and Doctors’ offices and clinics have had to respond to higher demand and reduced budgets with shortened appointment times. Luckily, there are multiple delivery options beyond hospitals for those who are insured or uninsured – many of whom qualify for Medicaid – so education about all available options is essential.

Black maternal health

Sadly, Georgia has one of the highest rates of Black maternal mortality, but the state is determined to provide all women equal access to health care. Recruiting more midwives and hospital employees of color helps reduce implicit biases, like Black women being ignored more often when discussing pain or discomfort. All Georgia women should feel empowered to advocate for themselves and their baby’s health anytime.

Take action

Embracing healthy habits early during pregnancy helps new moms give their children the best chance to start life strong. Here are some sources to find more information about reproductive health and resources you can access at the state level:

National Resource

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • The CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health is the country’s scientific leader in promoting women’s health and infant health before, during, and after pregnancy. Its work reducing disease and death among mothers and babies focuses on reducing racial and ethnic differences in health outcomes.

State Resources

Georgia Department of Health

  • On a state-level, the Georgia DPH has also gathered relevant resources for Georgia’s women and children.
  • If you’re just considering having a child, the State of Georgia’s Department of Health (DPH) Family Planning website has a search function to identify services, counseling, and doctors near you.
  • The DPH website has a search function to locate a doctor’s office near you, and can even determine if you qualify for Medicaid insurance coverage and programs like WIC nutrition supplements.
  • Children 1st is the entry point for Georgia’s free Child Health Services from birth to 5 years of age. This website has information on important developmental milestones for your baby, all the types of services available to families, and how to contact the program or providers directly.
  • A list of every state children’s health program is searchable by zip code here.

You can help reduce preventable deaths of moms and infants here in Sumter County. Send this site to a friend or family member who is looking to start a family or is already pregnant.