Aug 9, 2023 - Health

New Orleans to provide free nurse visits and newborn supply kits for new moms

Photo shows a new mom in a hospital bed with her child and a Baby 2 Baby care kit

National nonprofit Baby2Baby is giving newborn supply kits to moms in New Orleans as part of a federal partnership. Photo: Courtesy of Baby2Baby

Leaders are taking action to help pregnant women and new moms in New Orleans, who are dying at greater rates than most other places in the country.

What's happening: Officials are launching two new programs in hopes of improving outcomes for moms and infants in a state plagued by poverty.

The backdrop: Louisiana has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country with 39 out of every 100,000 mothers dying during or shortly after childbirth, according to a report from health policy research organization KFF.

Yes, but: 45% of all pregnancy-related deaths were deemed preventable, according to a 2018 state report. The most common causes of pregnancy-related death were hemorrhage, cardiomyopathy and cardiovascular disease.

Zoom in: Health outcomes for moms are too often determined by skin color.

  • In Louisiana, four Black mothers die for every white mother who dies, according to a 2019 report from the state health department. And, two Black babies die for every white baby who dies.

Driving the news: These two programs both started in recent weeks.

Family Connects New Orleans provides three free, at-home nurse visits for babies in New Orleans who were born Touro or Ochsner Baptist. The nurses can help with medical care, mental health services and community resources.

  • The New Orleans Health Department runs the program. And $10 million in federal funding will only pay for the first three years, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. Cantrell said she hopes the city will allocate money to pay the estimated $1.5 million annual cost after that.

Nonprofit Baby2Baby partnered with the feds to provide maternal and newborn supply kits to new and expecting moms, with the pilot program launching at Touro and elsewhere in New Orleans.

Photo shows newborn supplies like diapers and a baby thermometer that are included in the Baby 2 Baby care kit
Baby2Baby is giving newborn supply kits to moms in New Orleans as part of a national partnership. Photo: Courtesy of Baby2Baby
  • Baby2Baby will work with city and state officials to give diapers, wipes, clothing, formula, baby carriers and other health necessities to 3,000 mothers in New Orleans, Arkansas and New Mexico.
  • The three states were selected because they have high maternal mortality rates and deep levels of family poverty, according to a Baby2Baby spokesperson. The goal is to expand the program nationally.

The big picture: Nationwide maternal mortality rates more than doubled between 1999 and 2019, with states in the Midwest, Great Plains and South accounting for significant increases, Axios' Oriana González reports.

  • Overall, there were an estimated 1,210 U.S. maternal deaths in 2019, compared to 505 in 1999.

What he's saying: "The maternal healthcare crisis that we're facing in this country is unacceptable," said Xavier Becerra, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, during a July event at Touro. "We are the wealthiest nation with the most sophisticated healthcare and we have to see women dying on delivery. ... It's not acceptable."


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