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Mayor Nagin’s office today announced Healthy Start New Orleans, a program that provides prenatal and neonatal care for low-income pregnant women and new mothers in the city, would receive $10 million in funding over the next five years through the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS).

     "This funding will allow Healthy Start New Orleans to continue providing community-based services to improve the health of mothers, babies and families eventually affecting the entire New Orleans community," said Charlotte Parent, RN, MCHM, Project Director of Healthy Start New Orleans.

     Healthy Start is a federally-funded initiative that was introduced in 1991 to lower the alarmingly high rate of infant mortality in the United States by addressing the disparity in prenatal care afforded women at different economic levels. New Orleans was one of the original 15 cities chosen for the program. There are now 100 Healthy Start sites across the country focused on reducing infant mortality rates, low birth weights (which are linked to higher mortality rates) and the racial disparity in perinatal outcomes. African American women are nearly twice as likely as Caucasian women to lose a baby.

     To qualify as a Healthy Start site, a city must have an infant mortality rate at least 1.5 times the national average. DHHS used 2004 statistics to determine program eligibility when Louisiana reported 10.4 deaths per 1,000 births. The national average was 6.8 deaths per 1,000 births.

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