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Healthy Start of Southwest Florida Receives Grant From March of Dimes to Assess Needs of Pregnant Women and Babies

FORT MYERS, Fla., Feb. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The needs of pregnant women, babies and toddlers up to age three have changed over the last five years. Healthy Start of Southwest Florida has received a $6,000 grant from the March of Dimes to conduct focus groups to determine how we can best help the 18,000 clients we serve each year.

There have been many changes in Southwest Florida in the last five years. The population has increased and the demographics have changed. Families are struggling financially as the decline of the housing industry has affected the economy of the area. New community resources have become available while others have been reduced or disappeared all together.

While the number of premature, low-birth-weight babies has declined in the four counties we serve and is below the state average, fetal mortality has increased. Since our resources are limited, it is imperative that we re-assess the needs of the people we help to focus our resources to best impact birth outcomes.

The needs assessment conducted by Healthy Start will include compiling and reviewing birth outcomes, surveying community providers and clients, as well as conducting the consumer focus groups. The focus groups will enable consumers to tell us what their major challenges are as well as potential solutions to those challenges. The focus groups will be held in LaBelle, Fort Myers and Naples through July 31, 2008.

The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, low birth weight and infant mortality. This mission is carried out through research, community services, education and advocacy to save the lives of babies.

Healthy Start is a not-for-profit 501C (3) organization, working in partnership with the United Way, March of Dimes and the Florida Department of Health. We have been serving Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties since 1992. Healthy Start's goals are to:

-- Reduce the number of infant deaths;

-- Reduce the number of premature or low-birth-weight babies

-- Improve health and developmental outcomes for young children

Healthy Start helps ensure that moms and babies have access to needed medical care and other community services to help give each baby a Healthy Start in life. Each year, Healthy Start serves more than 18,000 pregnant women, babies and young children under the age of three who are at high risk for poor health outcomes.

CONTACT: Carlos Navedo 239.425.6926,

SOURCE Healthy Start of Southwest Florida
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