Identifying Strategies for Improving Maternal and Infant Health: Two Pilot Studies Evaluating SIDS Education and Community Outreach Projects among Minority Women in the Mississippi Delta

Monday, 12 July 2010: 3:05 PM

Juanita Graham, MSN, RN
Health Services, Mississippi Department of Health, Jackson, MS
LaDonna Kaye Northington, DNS, CCRN, BC
School of Nursing, University of Mississippi, Jackson, MS

Learning Objective 1: List Mississippi infant mortality and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) rates

Learning Objective 2: Discuss strategies to improve maternal and infant health in Mississippi.

Purpose: To identify strategies for improving maternal and infant health in the Mississippi Delta. 

Methods: Two separate studies evaluated infant mortality risk reduction strategies among high risk minority women in the Mississippi Delta. Focus groups assessed the level of SIDS-related knowledge among the target population. Interviews with community health workers (CHW) provided insight on perceived successes and challenges in providing rural outreach to the target population.

Results: In the focus groups, themes were common among participants (n=28) who had at least heard the term SIDS. There was inconsistency among participants as to the source of information resulting in incomplete, and in some cases inaccurate SIDS information. The CHW interviews described a program more proactive in nature than other prenatal services available in the area. Rather than waiting for women to seek care, the opportunity to access care is taken to the women who need it, where they need it. Additional results will be presented.

Conclusion: SIDS information is not fully understood or consistently distributed resulting in a knowledge deficit among African American women extending the risk for SIDS events in Mississippi. Cultural influences and perceptions that discussion of death and dying poses a threat or “bad luck” seems to be a practical explanation for ineffective educational tools and strategies. Transitioning to positive language such as saving babies and lives presents as a logical evolution for educational materials to follow.  Teen pregnancy, socioeconomic status, inadequate transportation, and lack of access to healthcare, related as issues for the target population, are also determinants of maternal health and thus, infant health. There is clearly a need for community outreach in underserved communities. Because Mississippi has traditionally led the nation in SIDS deaths and overall infant mortality, it is important that actions be taken to reduce infant deaths and reduce disparities in birth outcomes.