Howard Launches Transformative $1.3 Million Program Tackling Maternal Health Disparities

Howard County has launched a $1.3 million maternal health program to ensure that vital prenatal and postpartum care is available and affordable for uninsured and underinsured women.

The program will expand care to approximately 300 women annually. Howard County Executive Calvin Ball discussed the need to address health disparities among the county’s mothers in a press release:

Howard County is one of the healthiest communities in our nation, but we still have challenges to address. Hispanic mothers in Howard County are four times more likely to receive insufficient prenatal care as white mothers, putting their health and the health of their babies at risk. That’s unacceptable, and today we are doing something about it. Our innovative program will truly be lifesaving. We will help uninsured and underinsured access care and overcome obstacles. This is an important step in building a healthier community for all.

The program will include:

  • Training doulas to provide guidance and support to women during labor
  • Providing direct support to pregnant women and new moms on breastfeeding, healthy eating, postpartum and more
  • Expanding nurse home visits for new moms
  • And supporting teen parents with educational, daycare, and health needs

The funding also includes wrap-around services to be provided by partner organizations intended to:

  • Improve early access to a respectful prenatal care experience for reproductive-aged women of color
  • Decrease disparities in pre-term and low birth weight births
  • Promote equitable access to bias-free and culturally congruent prenatal and post-partum support services

According to the 2019 Howard County Community Health Needs Assessment, 12% of Hispanic mothers and 8% of Black mothers in Howard County received late prenatal care or no prenatal care at all. The former percentage equals more than four times that of white mothers. In addition, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.

Read the full press release.