Background information about the curriculum

Identifying the problem

Major problems that threaten the health of America’s babies are birth defects, infant mortality, low birth weight and lack of prenatal care. Birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality. The collective impact of birth defects reaches beyond individuals and families to society as well

Preventive factors exist in birth defects related to folic acid in the diet, and alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy. The risk of neural tube birth defects may be reduced by 70 percent if women consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, prior to and during the first few weeks of pregnancy.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the most common known causes of mental retardation, and the only cause that is entirely preventable.

Known risk factors for low birth weight include smoking and inadequate maternal nutrition. Stopping smoking is one of the preventive measures likely to have a substantial impact on pregnancy outcomes.

A family health history is a powerful screening tool for health problems that run in families.

Newborn screening focuses mainly on conditions for which medical and developmental complications are preventable or treatable or for which medical management can save the infant’s life.

Forty-eight percent of new cases of STDs/STIs occur among 15-24 year olds each year. Pregnant women with an STD/STI are at an increased risk for negative pregnancy and birth outcomes.

One predictor of how long and how well a person will live is the quality of close personal relationships. The dynamics of relationships may also have a direct application to positive birth outcomes.