Black Maternal Health Week

A pregnant Black mother looks down at her stomach.Black Maternal Health Week is observed from April 11th to 17th; it is focused on raising awareness about inequities in health outcomes among Black mothers throughout the United States. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. has one of the highest maternal mortality rates among high-income nations. While this crisis affects all mothers, Black mothers are disproportionately likely to die due to pregnancy complications.

Several factors contribute to Black mothers’ increased mortality rate, including:

  • Limited access to high-quality medical care due to geographic factors and the potentially high cost of needed treatments
  • Organizational structures and policies that provide inadequate support for Black mothers
  • A lack of sufficient data and understanding on the part of organizations and providers regarding the health needs and circumstances of individual Black mothers and their children

At Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, Black maternal health is important to us, and we have initiated and continually improved upon several programs designed to create a more equitable care environment for mothers at our hospital. For example, our CenteringPregnancy program offers pre-natal care in a group setting facilitated by doctors, nurses, and midwives, where expectant mothers with similar due dates can share experiences, receive support, and learn effective ways of staying healthy throughout pregnancy.

In addition to CenteringPregnancy, our hospital also offers access to midwife care and support from doulas, who help to ensure that mothers receive the guidance and support they need throughout their care. We also adhere to the Respectful Care at Birth initiative, a New York City Department of Health program focused on:

  • Providing easy-to-understand information about pregnancy, childbirth, and the care you will receive
  • Providing a sanitary, supportive environment in which to receive the care you need and give birth to your child
  • Supporting the ability and authority of mothers to make informed decisions about their care
  • Reinforcing the expectation that patients of all races and backgrounds will be treated with dignity and respect throughout their care
  • Ensuring that mothers have the support they need in terms of information, care, and having family members (or other people of their choosing) present during their care

No matter your race or background, you can always expect to receive comprehensive, high-quality maternal care at Jamaica Hospital’s Women’s Health Center. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please call (718) 291-3276.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

National Birth Defect Prevention Month

Baby with cleft before and after surgery

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month. Among the most common birth defects is cleft lip. Cleft lip is a birth defect that occurs when a baby’s lip or mouth does not form properly in the womb. Collectively, these birth defects commonly are called “orofacial clefts”.

The lip forms between the fourth and seventh weeks of pregnancy. A cleft lip develops if the lip tissue does not join completely before birth, resulting in an opening of the upper lip. The opening in the lip varies in size from a small slit or a large opening that goes through the lip into the nose.

The causes of orofacial clefts among most infants are unknown. However, they are thought to be caused by a combination of genetics or other factors, such as things the mother comes in contact with in her environment, or what the mother eats or drinks, or certain medications she uses during pregnancy. Recently the Center for Disease Control reported findings from research studies about risk factors that increase the chance of infant orofacial cleft:

  • Smoking―Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with an orofacial cleft than women who do not smoke
  • Diabetes―Women with diabetes diagnosed before pregnancy have an increased risk of having a child with a cleft lip with or without cleft palate, compared to women who did not have diabetes
  • Use of certain medicines―Women who used certain medicines to treat epilepsy during the first trimester (the first 3 months) of pregnancy are at greater risk

Orofacial clefts, especially cleft lip with or without cleft palate, can be diagnosed during pregnancy during a routine ultrasound. Services and treatment for children with orofacial clefts can vary depending on:

  • The severity of the cleft
  • The child’s age and needs
  • The presence of associated syndromes
  • Other birth defects

Surgery to repair a cleft lip usually occurs in the first few months of life and is recommended within the first 12 months of life. Children born with orofacial clefts might need other types of treatments and services, such as special dental or orthodontic care or speech therapy.

If you are an expecting mother in need of a doctor, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Obstetrical Division practices family-centered care. The obstetrical unit is furnished with state-of-the-art equipment, including high tech monitors and sonographic equipment. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 718-206-6808.

For more hospital events, highlights, health and  fitness tips, visit us on Facebook.com/JamaicaHospital and follow us on Twitter @JamaicaHospital 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.