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Improving Infant and Maternal Health Outcomes

The health of a baby during and after pregnancy relies upon the overall health of the mother. When a mother is ill, suffers from chronic stress, or has a harmful environment, it greatly impacts the child’s development in utero and after. During a time when children are developing the most, it is important that we provide mothers with the education and resources needed to have healthy pregnancies, healthy babies, and healthy lives.

Recently, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 11, which is aimed at providing mothers and babies with a healthy start. The bill was sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) and co-sponsored by many members of both parties in the Senate and House. During the legislative process, Groundwork Ohio and other Ready, Set, Soar coalition members demonstrated their support for the bill by providing proponent testimony. Due to this bipartisan support, Ohio’s mothers and babies will begin to receive the services that they need and deserve. In total, the bill will:

  • Allow the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to create a grant program for group-based prenatal health care programs utilizing the Centering Pregnancy Model of Care or another model approved by the ODH. These programs have demonstrated success in preventing infant and maternal mortality and providing better health outcomes through increasing access to prenatal care, parental education, group support, and other necessary supports. The grant is prioritized for programs providing care in high preterm birth rate areas of Ohio to include Cuyahoga County, Franklin County, Hamilton County, Summit County, and rural areas.

  • Allow Medicaid and state employee health care benefit plans the ability to cover tobacco cessation medication and services for pregnant mothers.

  • Establish a new program within Ohio Department of Medicaid to provide dental services to pregnant women who are enrolled in Medicaid. Under this program, mothers are eligible to receive two dental cleanings per year.

  • Develop new educational materials explaining why lead-based paint is harmful to children and adults and how to reduce the risk of lead exposure. These materials will be developed by ODH and distributed through the Help Me Grow Program to all families in their care who are living in homes built before 1979.

Ohio still has a long road ahead until we begin to see better infant and maternal health outcomes and eliminate infant and maternal mortality. However, the wide bipartisan approval of this legislation and the investments this legislation makes are steps in the right direction to achieving a brighter future for infants, toddlers, and their families.


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