The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department has received a $20,000 grant from the Tennessee Chapter of the March of Dimes. The one-year grant will support the “Faith for Chattanooga Babies” initiative, which aims to improve the health of childbearing women and babies in Hamilton County’s African American community.
The tobacco prevention and infant mortality programs at the Health Department have partnered to provide preconception health education to women by addressing tobacco exposure and its relation to infant mortality and overall maternal health.
Preconception education focuses on the health of a woman before she becomes pregnant and the early stages of her pregnancy. The goal is to ensure a healthy birth outcome for both mother and baby. The Faith for Chattanooga Babies initiative will facilitate partnerships between the First Ladies of African American churches and adopted childcare centers.
"Many people are not aware of the dangerous effects of tobacco exposure on infant and maternal health,” said Lori Franklin Wheeler, infant mortality program manager at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department. "This is a great opportunity to partner with leaders in the faith-based community to help make mothers and babies healthier. The program will directly impact approximately 384 people,” said Ms. Wheeler.
First Ladies will create a church team to:
· Learn about the dangers of tobacco exposure to mothers, babies, and children
· Adopt/Partner with a childcare center
· Teach and host educational sessions for church attendees on outlined health topics
The project aligns with the statewide efforts of Tennessee First Lady Chrissy Haslam’s “First Ladies for Healthy Babies” initiative. Additional community partners include: the Chattanooga Health Disparities Task Force, Mt. Canaan Baptist Church, Dr. Vonda Ware, Howard High School, the Chattanooga Hamilton County Medical Society, and the Increasing the Rate of Infant Survival (IRIS) Community Action Team.