Low-cost preconception project for couples, healthier babies
Giving Flagstaff-area babies the best chance for a healthy start in life is the goal of a new program for couples developed by the Coconino County Health Department and North Country Community Health Services, and funded by a grant of nearly $30,000 from the March of Dimes Arizona Chapter.
Couples who are considering becoming parents or who have experienced a high risk pregnancy or birth are encouraged to call and make an appointment for this low-cost health evaluation and education program, offered at the Coconino County Health Dept. Reproductive Health Clinic, 2625 N. King St., 928-522-7920 or North Country Community Health Center, 2500 N. Rose St., 928-774-8341.
Cost of the program, offered in English and Spanish, is $25 for each couple, however no one will be turned away based on inability to pay.
The preconception health care visits will be tailored to meet the needs of each couple, and will include a physical examination of the hopeful mother, nutrition and wellness education, a health assessment to identify potential risks caused by chronic health conditions or preventive health needs, and referral to other community resources such as nutrition workshops, diabetes support groups or tobacco cessation programs, when needed.
Women will receive vitamins containing folic acid and both partners will be also tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
Education about the importance of folic acid consumption in planning a healthy pregnancy is an important element of the program. Women who consume 400 mcg of folic acid daily, starting before they become pregnant, may reduce their risk of having a baby with a neural tube birth defect such as spina bifida by 60 to 80 percent.
Coconino County Health Dept. and North Country Community Health Services both offer free multivitamins containing folic acid to women of childbearing age residing in Coconino County, at all of their locations.
"CCHD and NCCHC took care to devise this pilot preconception/interconception education project to address the diverse needs of the Flagstaff community," explained Allie Stender-Mrazek, senior program coordinator for Maternal & Child Health for Coconino County Health Dept. "Our clients at both clinics are very low-income and underinsured. Research consistently identifies low-income uninsured women as facing significant health disparities, particularly relating to prenatal health and birth outcomes. This program has the potential to give their babies a better chance for a healthy birth."
"Generous volunteers and donors to Flagstaff's annual March of Dimes WalkAmerica have helped to fund the grant that made this program possible," said Jorja Nackard, coordinator of Maternal and Child Health Programs,North Country Community Health Center. "It's just one example of how the March of Dimes is working to help moms and babies in our community." Nackard has been a WalkAmerica committee member for several years.
Flagstaff March of Dimes WalkAmerica will be held Saturday, April 28, at Foxglenn Park, as part of the city's "Soaring into Spring" event. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and the official start is at 9:30 a.m. For details or to register, call the March of Dimes toll-free at 888-566-9933 or log on to marchofdimes.com/arizona.