Children’s Coalition announces improvements in pregnancy outcomes for Louisiana teens

Courtesy: MGN
Courtesy: MGN
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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) – The Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Louisiana announced the results of a program that supports teen parents and improves pregnancy outcomes.

In 2015, UnitedHealthcare donated $50,000 to the Coalition to support a weekly online resource for pregnant teens and teen parents called “Nurturing Skills for Teen Parents.”

The program is part of the Jus4Me website, available to students at middle schools and high schools Ouachita, Union, Madison and Morehouse parishes.

Among teen parents and expectant mothers who participated in the program in 2015 and 2016, all babies born to program participants were of healthy birth weight, with an average of 7 pounds. Also:

52 teen parents (48 mothers and 4 fathers) improved their parenting skills through weekly classes held at six school sites in four parishes during the 2015-2016 school year;

97 percent of teen mothers in the program continued school during and after their pregnancy;

89 percent of teen mothers at sites with the school-based health centers used the health and referral services regularly;

20 percent of teen mothers at sites with school-based health centers enrolled in home visiting support. (Nurse Family Partnerships)

Allison Young, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Louisiana, shared the program results during a presentation at Carroll High School in Monroe. Guests and community leaders attended the event to hear first-hand the program’s positive impact on the community.

Jus4Me supports pregnant teens and teen parents, and improves teen pregnancy outcomes, through various initiatives and resources including weekly 50-minute evidence-based parenting sessions at school sites for pregnant teens and teen parents during the school year, and partnerships with School-Based Health Centers, local nonprofits and school staffs to develop policies and enhance access to health and educational services for pregnant teens and teen parents.

“Working together with our school and community partners, we were able to make significant contributions to improving pregnancy health among 100 percent of local participating teens by fostering shifts in attitudes, knowledge and behaviors that contribute to healthy pregnancy outcomes,” said Lynn Clark, executive director, Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana. “We thank UnitedHealthcare for supporting the important work that Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana has done and will continue to do to help teen parents and address pre-term births in the state.”

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 15 percent of Louisiana’s babies are born before term, the second-highest rate in the nation, compared to the national average of 11.5 percent. Babies born before term are at a higher risk of developing health complications that can adversely affect vision, hearing, heart rate, blood health, immune systems and breathing. Due to the efforts of the Children’s Coalition of Northeast Louisiana and the Jus4Me program, the number of preterm births to teens is beginning to decrease.

“Through Jus4Me, the Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana is providing teens with evidence-based programming that improves pregnancy outcomes and the system that supports them,” said Young. “Organizations like the Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana are addressing this issue to improve the health of young women and their babies, particularly in Northeast Louisiana where preterm births are highest. UnitedHealthcare is grateful for the opportunity to support Jus4Me to provide local teens with a valuable resource that will improve pregnancy outcomes.”

National data suggest that teen pregnancy among youth ages 10 to 14 is on the rise. Babies born to teens younger than 15 are more than twice as likely to be low birth weight because of the increased stigma around younger pregnant teens, which often discourages them from seeking prenatal care. Local data suggest that these younger teens are more likely to have repeat births. A survey administered as part of 2015-2016 programs in Ouachita, Madison and Union parishes showed that more than half of teen parents in the program who had more than one child already were first pregnant in middle school.

The UnitedHealthcare Community Grants Program offers free expert guidance to help organizations make their funding efforts more effective. For more information, visit www.uhccommunitygrants.com.

UnitedHealthcare serves nearly 875,000 people in Louisiana with a network of 164 hospitals and more than 17,000 physicians and other care providers statewide.

About The Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana

The Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana is a membership-based 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to creating communities where children and families thrive. We address the needs of children and youth ages 0-18 in four main areas: Early Care and Education, Healthy Living, Parent Education and Youth Development. The need for an organization that could quickly move between and work within other non-profits to meet community needs was first identified in 1998 at a regional Summit on Youth. There was a clear recognition of how much stronger our communities would be if organizations collaborated and became partners in solving and meeting the needs of children. The Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana came into being as a result of this visionary thinking. In addition to several state and federal programs that support children and families in our region, the Coalition is the Early Head Start awardee for Ouachita Parish, the Family Resource Center for Region 8 and the Child Care Resource and Referral for Region 9.

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 850,000 physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @myUHC on Twitter.

Read the original version of this article at www.knoe.com.