Health Programs Towards Preventing Low Birth Weights. Essay Example on Public Health.

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1062 Words
Date:  2021-06-24

Low birth weight is of the 26 Leading Health Indicators. The Leading Health Indicators are a set of Healthy People 2020 objectives, and they communicate health issues of high priority as well as the actions which can address those health issues (Healthy People 2020, 2017). The babies with low birth weight indicator fall under the topic Maternal, Infant, and Child Health. Mothers, infants as well as childrens well-being is a significant factor in the next generations health and is useful in predicting future health challenges for communities, families and healthcare system. Addressing the women needs prior to, during, and after pregnancy improves both their health and that of their children. To meet the Healthy People 2020 7.8% target of infants born with low weight, Arizona is achieving the target through Prenatal Plus Program and Heath Start Program.

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Babies with low birth weight indicator show the birth percentages where the newborns weigh less than 2, 500 grams (Arizona Department of Health Services, 2017). Infants born with low weight are vulnerable to health problems as compared to those of healthy weight, and they need specialized medical care. Fetal growth restrictions and premature birth are the common causes of low birth weight and the health of a mother and genetics both influence them. However, pregnant women can prevent low birth weight by seeking prenatal care, advice, and guidance. In 2012, the state of Arizona achieved low birth weight births of 7.2% as compared to the Health People 2020 target of 7.8 percent. In 2013, Arizona had 6.9% of babies born with low weight, 7.0 % in 2014, and 7.2% in 2015. As compared to the U.S value reduction of infants born with low birth weight of 8.0%, the state of Arizona has a low rate of babies born underweight. From the statistics, Arizona has met the Health People 2020 target of 7.8% (Arizona Department of Health Services, 2017).The two programs; Prenatal Plus and Health Start have facilitated the achievement of the target by Arizona State.

Prenatal Plus Program aims at improving birth outcomes and decreases the rate of low birth weight through reducing the risk during pregnancy (Arizona Health Matters, n.d.). The program offers case management, psychosocial services, and nutrition counseling to expectant mothers at risk of giving birth low birth weight infants and other negative birth outcomes. The program enrolls pregnant women through a medical practitioner referral or based on the score on the Healthy Start Prenatal Risk Screen. The services that Prenatal Plus Program provides supplements the regular prenatal care of the expectant mothers. The pregnant women attend various sessions that target to improve the health of the mother and the unborn child. In every session, practitioners working at Prenatal Plus together with the client prioritize and focus on small goals targeting improving nutritional and psychosocial health status, developing and maintaining healthy lifestyle throughout the pregnancy and after, discourage alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs use, and aptly use social and medical services (Arizona Health Matters, n.d.).

Based on the statistics, the Program has been effective in meeting the 7.8 % target mark of Healthy People 2020 of low birth weight. Prenatal Plus Program has recorded 10.7 percent rate of infants born with low birth weight among the participants who participated in the program during their pregnancy period, a 22.5 percent decrease in comparison with 13.8 percent expected rate in the absence of Prenatal Plus. The reduction in the rate of low birth weight is attributed to the changes in the health risk behaviors in expectant mothers participating in Prenatal Plus Program. Pregnant women who joined the program while smoking, 66 percent stopped smoking before delivery, 80 percent of the expectant women resolved their psychosocial problems, 72 percent of pregnant women with low weight gain in pregnancy gained adequate weight, 92 percent of pregnant women quit using illicit drugs, and 99 percent abstained from alcohol use during pregnancy (Arizona Health Matters, n.d.).

The Health Start Program aims at preventing low birth weights through provision of care for pregnant women at high risk of premature births and provision of health education on prenatal care. The Program uses the community health workers in providing advocacy, education, and support services to pregnant women in targeted communities throughout the state. These community health workers serve the communities based on cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic characteristics (Arizona Department of Health Services, n.d.). The program connects the pregnant women to prenatal care providers where they receive education on fetal development as well as health behaviors which impact the birth outcomes. The community health workers conduct home visits to pregnant women to ensure their safety and adherence to healthy lifestyle. Health Start Program addresses environmental, stress, and health factors which impact the infant development and birth outcomes.

The Health Start Program has been effective in facilitating the State of Arizona in achieving low rate of low birth weight births thereby meeting the Healthy People 2020 target. In 2011, the Program enrolled 3, 770 prenatal women who completed 12, 478 visits; 3.3 encounters per pregnant woman. Most of the pregnant women who enrolled in the program were in their first and second pregnancy trimester. The Program has been successful in provision of prenatal education and care to pregnant women and implemented prenatal alcohol screening. Since 2008, the program has been able to change the risk behaviors of pregnant women and thereby reducing the rate of low birth weights (Arizona Department of Health Services, n.d.).

In conclusion, Low Birth Weight is one of the Leading Health Indicator and the Healthy People 2020 targets to decrease the number of infants born with low birth weights to 7.8 percent. The State of Arizona has achieved this target since its value is at 7.2% as of 2015. The Prenatal Plus and the Health Start Programs have significantly facilitated the state towards achieving low rate of low birth weights. Both the programs provide services to pregnant women aiming at reducing low birth weights by focusing on changing risk behaviors. The goals of both programs are in line with the Healthy People 2020.


Arizona Department of Health Services. (2017, May). Babies with Low Birth Weight. Arizona Health Matters. Retrieved June 07, 2017, from

Arizona Department of Health Services. (n.d.). Health Start. Retrieved June 07, 2017, from

Arizona Health Matters. (n.d.). Prenatal Plus Program. Retrieved June 07, 2017, from

Healthy People 2020. (2017, June 06). 2020 LHI topics. Retrieved June 07, 2017, from

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Health Programs Towards Preventing Low Birth Weights. Essay Example on Public Health.. (2021, Jun 24). Retrieved from

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