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Feedback from new moms will improve maternal-child health services


BROOKINGS, SD (KELO-AM) - it's a first for South Dakota women who give birth this year—and an opportunity to help improve the health of future mothers and infants.For the first time, some of these new moms will be asked to participate in the annual Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitor Survey, or PRAMS, as part of an effort to determine their needs and whether they are being met. South Dakota State University professor Bonny Specker, director of the E.A. Martin Program in Human Nutrition, and her research team will be responsible for PRAMS data collection through a partnership with the South Dakota Department of Health.

Isabelle Rose Lee Hockett, the daughter of Joe and Christy Hockett, was born in Colorado, one of 40 states that participate in the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitor Survey.  Women from 40 states, representing 78 percent of live births, currently participate in the PRAMS.The survey is a joint research project between each state's department of health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Reproductive Health. The data from this survey will help improve the health of mothers and infants, according to Darlene Bergeleen, administrator for the office of family and community health at the South Dakota Department of Health. Depending on a state's population, anywhere from 1,300 to 3,400 women will be asked to complete the questionnaire.To get reliable results, 65 to 70 percent of the women selected must fill out their questionnaires, according to Specker. Two to three months after giving birth, selected mothers will receive an introductory letter and then about a week later, the questionnaire packet. Graduate and undergraduate students working on the year-long project will send subsequent questionnaires and ultimately make a telephone call to those who do not respond.The survey, for example, asks whether and when moms had access to prenatal care and whether they chose to breastfeed and if so, for how long. The survey also addresses high-risk pregnancies, post-partum depression, childhood immunizations and services for children with special needs. All responses will be kept confidential.Specific areas of the nation tend to have higher infant mortality rates, explained Bergeleen. The goal of the project, according to the CDC website, is to "learn why some babies are born healthy and others are not," and subsequently, determine how to provide services that will improve outcomes and provide support for mothers and babies.Bergeleen said, "These data will also be very important for our other partners," including state agencies such as the department of social services, Indian Health Service, health care providers and community health centers.The South Dakota tribal communities collected PRAMS data in 2007-2008, but this will be the first time mothers state-wide have the opportunity to provide feedback that will make a difference in their communities and their state.