MICHIGAN — The March of Dimes puts out a report card every year analyzing the health of moms and babies. It breaks things down by county and ethnicity and compares Michigan to the rest of the country to help us see how we are doing. Knowing where we stand is half the battle, so the organization can begin its job of raising those grades.
For 2021, the March of Dimes gave Michigan a C- overall. That doesn't sound great, but it's stable, and in some cases, an improvement. Kara Hamilton-McGraw is the director of maternal infant health for March of Dimes. She says, "This year we actually had a great year in terms of our infant mortality rate, our pre-term birth rate improved just slightly, but it improved. And I think you can't overlook that statistics take a lot of time a lot of individuals to change."
Hamilton-McGraw adds that there are still some specific areas where Michigan needs significant improvement. "Black moms and black babies are in some places more than 3-4 times more likely to have an adverse outcome also our Native American population or indigenous population is more at risk, so yes, we need to do more work in that we need to do more programming that specifically targets the issues that we are facing are causing these health disparities."
While COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the health care industry as a whole, it may have actually benefitted pregnant moms. “We’re living differently, you can work from home, we're not leaving home as much going to restaurants as much or eating fast food as much. We're actually seeing that could be having a positive impact on women and their babies."
But in the end, Hamilton-McGraw says the only way to really raise the grade in the state is the same way you did in school, study and learn. "Just know what's good for your health and not just your physical health, your mental health. What would be healthy if you wanted to have children - do you stop smoking, learn about healthy alcohol consumption or learn about foods that might not be the most safe to eat during pregnancy.”
The good news is, that information is free and readily accessible through the March of Dimes. It’s geared toward those who hope to become pregnant, those who already are, even those who don't want to become pregnant. Head to marchofdimes.org to see the report card or check out those resources.