The path to prosperity begins at birth. Children must be born into safe homes with families who are socially, emotionally and financially prepared to care for them.
Parents know that keeping a child safe and healthy is no small task, and doing so begins well before birth. A child’s healthy beginning depends on quality prenatal care. It continues after birth with pediatric care and a safe and healthy home environment with families that are prepared to support young children. Keeping our youngest children healthy is particularly important for the economic stability of lower-income families.
If we are going to build a stronger community, we must start at the beginning.
Born Healthy: By the Numbers
Preterm and low-weight births increase a child’s risk of mortality and later health and developmental problems. Children who weigh below 5.5 pounds at birth are considered to have a low birth weight. Children born at moderately low birth weight (3.3 to 5.5 pounds) are more likely than normal birth weight children to have special healthcare needs, including increased need for medication, above-average use of health services and limitations on activity. Very low birth weight babies (less than 3.3 pounds) are at increased risk for chronic conditions such as respiratory problems, poor postnatal growth, cerebral palsy and infections. These conditions can increase the need for special education and services.
In 2015, 8.7% of babies born in our region weighed less than 5.5 pounds.
Prenatal care received during the first trimester helps to promote healthy pregnancies. Care to pregnant women includes screening and management of a woman’s risk factors and health conditions, as well as education and counseling on healthy behaviors during and after pregnancy.
In 2016, 89.8% of pregnant women in our region received prenatal care in the first 13 weeks.
A parent’s level of educational attainment is an important indicator of present and future family well-being. Maternal education has been directly associated with children’s cognitive development, school achievement and grade retention. Research suggests social disadvantages associated with low educational attainment contribute to increased negative outcomes.
In 2015, 10.2% of babies in our region were born to mothers with less than a 12th grade education.
Teen pregnancy is associated with a range of adverse outcomes for teenage mothers and their children. These outcomes include lack of early and adequate prenatal care, an increased chance having a low-weight birth, increased chance of multiple births as a teen and higher risk of health problems for both mother and child. Teens who have a baby are also less likely to finish high school and are more likely to live below the poverty thresholds.
In 2015, our region’s teen pregnancy rate was 4.5%, for a total of 253 pregnant females ages 10-17.
What We Do
United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg funds programs that support mothers, families and children. We support home visitation and parenting education programs that ensure children are living in safe and healthy homes. Simultaneously, we work with school districts, local government agencies and the general public to address the issue from all sides.
Spotlight on Success
We work directly with the Petersburg Department of Health to implement a program to address teen pregnancy in the city. By working with students in schools as well as families, we successfully have reduced teen pregnancies in Petersburg by 54 percent since 2009.
How You Can Help
- Donate. Give to United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. Let us know you want your gift to help ensure babies are born healthy.
- Volunteer. Want to lend your time to supporting these efforts? Send us an email and we will help match you with the right opportunity. Or visit our Events page to see our existing opportunities.