To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Roger, who is with the Memphis/Shelby County Health Department, and I have been talking a bit about infant mortality in Shelby County.

IM correlates to poor education and to low socioeconomic status, and also to pregnancy in young girls. It does not necessarily imply lack of health insurance, although many people make that assumption.

Anyway, Roger wants to continue the conversation here b/c we were off-topic where we were.


class-factotum said...

1. If you're that poor, you are probably on medicaid.

2. Too many teen pregnancies are a result of statutory rapes. It's not 13-yr-old boys getting the 13-yr-old girls pregnant. It's grown men who should be in prison. Why aren't they?

Laura(southernxyl) said...

I asked Roger if anyone had done any studies to find out who is fathering those 13-yr-olds' babies.

class-factotum said...

Remember the CA story a few years ago about the 12 yr old girl who was pregnant by the grown man? The same man who had gotten other girls pregnant? The CA knows. Don't know if Welfare Dept does.

Roger J. said...

sorry to be late in getting back on here re IM--Memphis has one of the highest rates of IM of any major metro area. There are a lot of studies out there, but regretably nothing specific from Memphis.

One big issue is educational level, and I argue that a major component of IM is a function of our school system. We and our partner hospitals are now producing educational materials at the THIRD GRADE reading level. Yes, third grade.

There are many programs available for prenatal programs, but given the young ages of the mothers and who the fathers might be, its possible they are hesitant to come forward in the first trimester before they start to show. Thats a complex issue.

We do have a newly hired epidemiologist on board who is doing her dissertation on IM--I am hoping we can use her skills to do some more detailed research on IM.

The programs are there; the mothers are not accessing them, and coupled with their relative immaturity, are creating the high rates.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Thanks, Roger.

What kind of prenatal care are the girls being educated about? Looking back at my own pregnancy (as an adult woman in good health, etc.) my prenatal care consisted of my doctor checking me out. She didn't really do anything. The only extra thing I did was take prenatal vitamins (which are important, I know.) Of course, I already didn't smoke, drink, do street drugs, etc. What is it exactly that the girls need to know that the education you're talking about will tell them? Is it the no smoking, no drinking kind of stuff?

Also, I am pleased to learn that an epidemiologist will be working on this issue. I've thought about that notorious zip code (38108, is it?) and in light of this article in the Commercial Appeal:

75 years ago: 1934

A slight increase in the infant mortality rate for Memphis for the first six months of the year was reported by the City Health Department. For every 100 babies born during the period, 11.68 percent died. The 1933 mortality rate was 11.15, placing Memphis first among cities of 250,000 and over in America.

I wonder if this is an area where there's not been a lot of population movement in and out, and there's a concentration of some kind of genetic problem preventing women from having healthy pregnancies. If that's the case, there may be an easy fix: some vitamin, for instance, that women outside the group don't need as much of, or an amino acid, or a mineral, or a particular fat or oil. I remember that it was not that long back that folic acid was found to be very important in preventing nerve defects like spina bifida.

class-factotum said...

Roger, a few years ago I was at a meeting where that radiologist who ran for city council talked about "ten in ten," ie, ten year old girls who were ten weeks pregnant. Third grade is probably not too early. But throwing some of these guys in prison might help, too. (I am all for taking the kids away from teen moms and raising them in an orphanage - I think they'd have a better shot at a decent future, but I doubt my idea will fly.)