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Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Healthy Start Coalition Prematurity Month

Martin County Healthy Start placed 114 white and purple butterfly wands at the entrance of Martin Health System’s North Hospital to commemorate the 114 babies born before 37 weeks gestation.

Martin County Healthy Start Recognizes National Prematurity Awareness Month


Samantha Suffich, the new Executive Director of Martin County Healthy Start, is passionate about helping expectant mothers have full-term healthy babies. Providing expectant mothers with counseling and resources to ensure that they have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby is the core principle of Martin County Healthy Start. The good news is that in 2016, 91% of the babies were born at full-term with only 9% born early.


Samantha stated, “Creating awareness about premature births increases our opportunity to educate expectant mothers. Our care coordinators provide Healthy Start moms with personalized health education and follow them throughout their entire pregnancy and until the baby is three years old. However, we have to make the connection with them in order to provide help. Making them aware of our free services is essential to our success.”   


November is National Prematurity Awareness Month and November 17 was World Prematurity Day; in recognition Healthy Start created a butterfly garden of deep purple, lavender, and white butterfly wands in front of Martin Health System’s North Hospital front entrance from November 15-22. There were 114 butterfly wands to represent the 114 babies born before 37 weeks gestation in Martin County.


The importance of 37 weeks is due to a baby’s lung development most likely being sufficient enough to survive outside of the womb; 39 weeks is considered to be full term. Between 37 to 39 weeks, a baby experiences a huge leap in growth and development in lungs, body mass, and brain size. Additionally, babies born before 37 weeks are at a higher risk for developing serious health issues including respiratory and digestive problems, congenital health defects, vision impairment, and learning disabilities.


Although the rate of 9% is less than the state and national average of 10%, it is an increase over the prior year’s rate of 6.8%. The greatest concern is for the black babies.

Unfortunately in 2016, 17.7% of the black babies were born too early compared to 9.2% of white babies in Martin County and 13.8% of black babies across the state of Florida. To address this issue, Healthy Start is expanding their prenatal outreach services in Indiantown. 


Martin County Healthy Start Coalition addresses the premature birth numbers by providing pregnant women with health navigation through their Prenatal Outreach Center off of Salerno Road and US1. This center provides pregnant women individual help with enrolling in Medicaid and connecting them to the Medicaid plans that align with local healthcare providers. Obtaining Medicaid can be a challenging process for some, but allows them to obtain their prenatal care at little to no cost.


They also provide services to pregnant women in the community through care coordination. Healthy Start knows that the sooner a pregnant woman gets into prenatal care and the level of prenatal care she receives, affects how positive her birth outcome will be with a full term pregnancy and a healthy mom and baby.  For more information about the services of Martin County Healthy Start please visit the website at or phone 772-463-2141.






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