Healthy Baby Network Invaluable for Expectant Women and Adolescents

When 18-year-old Terika Taylor discovered she was pregnant last year, she immediately informed her mother - then she talked to her high school counselor. It was one of the best choices the Dolton teen could have made.

That's when she discovered the Healthy Baby Network (HBN), an outreach program that addresses the healthcare needs of economically disadvantaged pregnant women and adolescents. Managed by Ingalls Memorial Hospital, the HBN connects expectant mothers with a unique network of local healthcare providers, retailers, government agencies, schools and community organizations that work together to coordinate prenatal care, education and social services for pregnant women.

"Research shows that mothers-to-be who receive prenatal care throughout their pregnancy are less likely to have premature or low-birth-weight babies – and are less likely to encounter serious health problems related to their pregnancy," explains Shanice Graham, R.D., HBN coordinator.

Since its inception in early 2008, enrollment is at an all-time high of more than 750 members. Low-birth-weight deliveries have declined nearly 70 percent from 2008, and nearly 70 percent fewer pregnant women arrive in the hospital emergency department to deliver without any previous prenatal care.

Additionally, more than 80 percent of the program's active participants, like Terika, now have medical insurance and an established relationship with a doctor, which is good for her baby boy – Prince Armani – who was born at Ingalls April 12, weighing a healthy 6 lbs., 10 oz.

And when Terika was ready to bring her baby home, the HBN presented her with a brand-new infant car seat (thanks to a generous grant from ArcelorMittal in Riverdale) so she could safely transport her precious new bundle by car.

The motivated teen plans to attend college, major in mathematics and one day become a college professor.

"The Healthy Baby Network can be that stepping stone for expectant mothers and let them know it's really not as overwhelming as it seems," Graham added. "We're here for them."

If you or someone you know is in need of prenatal care, and would like to enroll in the Healthy Baby Network, call Shanice Graham, R.D., HBN coordinator, at 708.915.3825 for more information.

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