Program Pairs Mothers With Help For 'Better' Birth Outcomes

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Nationwide Children's Hospital is part of a joint effort to reduce the rising rate of preterm births in Franklin County.

The effort, called "Ohio Better Birth Outcomes," is a four-part prevention program aimed at cutting down on the high rate of premature births and the problems that come with them, 10TV's Tracy Townsend reported Thursday.

Veronica Valdez may appear to be a natural at mothering her daughter Marissa, but it was not always the case.

"I knew you had a kid in nine months and that's about it," Valdez said. "I was young; I was 16 so I was really scared."
A teenager and high school dropout facing motherhood made Valdez a fit for the nurse-family partnership at Nationwide Children's Hospital. 

The program promotes health and development between first-time moms and their babies, Townsend reported.

"This is a model that's been demonstrated to help but it's not just a handout," said Nationwide Children's Hospital Dr. Phil Scribbano. "It's help that teaches them over time to improve their life and to improve the life of their infant."

Mothers join before the 28th week of pregnancy and are paired with a registered nurse who makes home visits to monitor prenatal care and watch for signs of preterm labor.

"We really look for those every time we come out," said Shelly Spicer, RN. "We're seeing them every two weeks assessing symptoms and letting them know when they need to call the doctor."

The partnership has reduced preterm birth rate in Franklin County by 37 to 45 percent.

Dollars spent for care in the NICU are down by 75 percent, Townsend reported.

"The cost of a child who has been abused that needs to be placed into foster care, the cost of the criminal justice system, the cost of other medical conditions that are related to behaviors," Scribbano said.

Valdez said the partnership gave her critical preparation to give her daughter a good start.

"I don't feel as clueless, I feel comfortable," she said.

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