Category Archives: Low-birthweight infants

May 14 2012

Healthier Moms, Stronger Babies

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health has designated May 13 to May 19 as National Women’s Health Week. It is designed to bring together communities, businesses, government, health organizations and others to promote women’s health. The goal in 2012 is to empower women to make their health a top priority. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Human Capital Blog is launching an occasional series on women’s health in conjunction with the week. This post is by Rebekah Gee, MD, MPH, RWJF Clinical Scholars alumna and an assistant professor of public health and obstetrics and gynecology at Louisiana State University (LSU). She is director of the Louisiana Birth Outcomes Initiative.


Louisiana is a fantastic place to live. It’s one of the most culturally rich and enchanting places in the United States. The state, however, also faces some of the greatest challenges in our nation.

Louisiana has a long history of poverty, poor education, and social problems that affect the health of too many of its citizens. And for women—particularly African American women—the challenges are even greater. We are 49th in the nation in terms of overall birth outcomes, like infant prematurity and mortality, and we get failing grades on report cards that measure those indicators of health.

In 2010, Bruce Greenstein, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), recognized the importance of poor birth outcomes as a crucial public health issue—and named it his top priority. We were the first state in the nation to offer birth outcomes this kind of backing from our government officials. In November, 2010, we launched the Birth Outcomes Initiative, which I direct. It engages partners across the state—physicians, hospitals, clinics, nurses—and provides them with the best evidence and guiding principles to achieve change. We have made significant progress already.


We are working with the state’s hospitals on maternity care quality improvements, including ending all medically unnecessary deliveries before 39 weeks gestation. We have partnered with 15 of the largest maternity hospitals to provide them with the support and resources to make this a reality. Now, every maternity hospital in the state (there are 58) has signed on to the 39-Week Initiative.

Soon, we will be publishing perinatal quality scores—available to the public—so hospitals and physicians are held accountable for outcomes. In our pioneer facilities, we have seen the rates of elective deliveries drop by half. Many facilities have had as much as a 30-percent drop in the number of babies who needed to go to the NICU. The efforts of the Birth Outcomes Initiative are improving lives day after day.

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Apr 26 2012

Human Capital News Roundup: Low birthweight infants, antibacterial soap, youth and tobacco advertising, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars, fellows and grantees. Some recent examples:

Surgeons do not include radiation oncologists early enough in the breast cancer treatment decision-making process, according to a study led by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Physician Faculty Scholar Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil. The result is that patients are sometimes not informed about all their treatment options. Health Canal and Cardiovascular Business are among the outlets to report on the study. reports that a study by Eileen Lake, PhD, RN, FAAN, and colleagues finds that some outcomes for very low-birth-weight infants are better at hospitals with Magnet recognition—those recognized for nursing excellence. Lake is a grantee of the RWJF Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI). The study of more than 72,000 very low birthweight infants finds significantly lower rates of hospital infection, death at seven days and severe intraventricular hemorrhage among babies born at Magnet hospitals than those born at other hospitals. Read the study.

After student leaders at the University of Texas passed a resolution calling for administrators to ban antibacterial soap from campus on grounds of chemical and environmental concerns, RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumnus Allison E. Aiello, PhD, MS, spoke to the Houston Chronicle. Aiello studies triclosan, an antibacterial chemical used in soaps and other products, at the Center for Society Epidemiology and Population Health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

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