When children are dying under the age of one, the world takes notice. Infant mortality in the US is on the rise -- and is impacting underserved communities and people of color more than anyone else. Our nation needs solutions from developers who can help reduce infant mortality through innovative use of technology.
Infant mortality statistics in the U.S. are compelling and disturbing, with rates higher than similar developed countries. Much of this is due to poverty, stress, lack of family support and health education. Studies show that in underserved communities and among people of color, babies under the age of one are dying at a disproportionately higher rate. Our developer challenge is intentionally focused on creating technology solutions that save lives in these populations and offer new and effective resources for those who serve them.
We believe the most effective approach is to have technology developers work directly with trusted community leaders. They are the ones with "boots on the ground" in areas hardest hit by infant mortality. That’s why we’re collaborating with OurHealthyCommunity.com (OHC), a web-based ecosystem focused on underserved community outreach and engagement failure points. OHC is an easily accessible, geographically expandable, culturally appropriate, and interactive social network. It has been proven to drive outreach and engagement in underserved-communities.
Over the course of our 2-month challenge, we’re giving developers direct access to this online group of underserved community members, community health workers, and others in allied services. We encourage you to ask questions, gain clarity and refine your thinking to assure that submissions for this challenge truly reflect the needs of our stakeholders. Access to OHC will help you meet the challenge to develop technology that improves birth outcomes and reduces infant mortality rates.
Premature births are a leading cause of infant mortality – and it’s been proven that stress contributes to premature births.
That’s why we’re seeking solutions that help individual patients or consumers manage stress in their lives. Many of what we call “Social Determinants of Health” contribute to stress – including those factors beyond an individual’s control, such as family, organizations, community, society, and culture.
For example, many employees attribute job stress to unrealistic workloads and unpaid overtime. For others, stress comes from living in substandard housing and unsafe neighborhoods or not having transportation to a doctor’s appointment. It’s not always realistic or even possible to change these conditions – so we need to help individuals, especially pregnant moms, learn stress management skills.
As you develop tech solutions, please contemplate:
The role of a father is undeniable – with research showing a proven connection between involved fathers and lower infant mortality rates.
Some eye-opening conclusions came out of a research study of 1.39 million infants conducted by the University of South Florida and published in the Journal of Community Health.
The study concluded that infants with absent fathers were more likely to be born with lower birth weights, to be preterm and small for gestational age. These abnormalities make infants much more prone to death within their first year of life.
Obstetric complications contributing to premature births, such as anemia, chronic high blood pressure, eclampsia, and placental abruption, were found to be more prevalent among women whose babies’ fathers were absent during pregnancy.
The risk of poor birth outcomes was highest for infants born to black women whose babies’ fathers were absent during their pregnancies. Even after adjusting for socioeconomic differences, these babies were seven times more likely to die in infancy than babies born to Hispanic and white women in the same situation.
Regardless of race or ethnicity, the overall neonatal death rate of father-absent infants was nearly four times that of their counterparts with involved fathers.
As you develop tech solutions, please contemplate:
A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a powerful support in the mission to reduce infant mortality – but they often lack the support and networking needed to be most effective.
CHWs are trained advocates who empower individuals to access family-centered community resources through education, outreach, home visits and referrals. The workers typically come from the targeted community themselves, meaning they know and understand the people and the local neighborhoods. These professionals can improve communication and care-coordination – and can add to the healthcare or hospital team’s cultural competence.
Uniquely positioned to work with both healthcare providers and patients, Community Health Workers have incredible insight and a valuable perspective. They can help to improve patient satisfaction for providers, as well as improve health outcomes for patients.
As you develop tech solutions, please contemplate these facts: