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Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait™

Program successfully combats rising premature birth rates

Between 2000 and 2006, preterm birth (live births occurring before 37 weeks of gestation) was on the rise in Kentucky. The state's rate of preterm birth was even higher than the national rate. Preterm birth is a major cause of infant mortality and is associated with increased risk for poor outcomes, including chronic health conditions, long-term disability, and death. To address preterm birth in Kentucky, a program called Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait™ (HBWW) was implemented.

The program's five core community-based components target multiple factors that lead to preterm birth. HBWW interventions include:

  • Partnerships and collaboration to improve access to services
  • Promoting evidence-based clinical and public health interventions
  • Psychosocial screening and referral to support services
  • Public messaging that was coordinated and consistent
  • Promoting healthy pregnancies and avoidance of early elective deliveries

The HBWW program was piloted in three sites between March 2007 and December 2009, and data from these sites were compared with three control sites. HBWW evaluators monitored rates of preterm (less than 37 weeks gestation) and late preterm (34—36 weeks gestation) births and found a reduction in intervention sites. From 2007 to 2009, the HBWW sites saw a 6.5% reduction in program-eligible preterm birth rates and a 1.8% reduction in program-eligible late preterm birth rates, while the HBWW control sites saw a 10.4% and 14.3% increase in these rates, respectively. The comparison sites implemented HBWW in 2010. After implementation, prematurity rates dropped in these sites as well.

HBWW is a comprehensive community-based program that could be used to improve preterm birth rates, help achieve the Healthy People 2020 target for this LHI, and improve the lives of mothers, infants, and children.

Learn more about HBWW in Kentucky

Date Posted:
Organization Name: Kentucky Department for Public Health, Division of Maternal and Child Health
Program Name: 

Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait™

275 East Main Street
Frankfort, KY 40621
United States
Healthy People 2020 Topic Area(s) addressed: 
Healthy People 2020 Objective(s) addressed: 
Healthy People 2020 overarching goal addressed: 
Promote quality of life, healthy development, and healthy behaviors across all life stages.
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