Environment can mean a lot of things, air pollutants, water pollutants, but in this scenario it is the environment of poverty. I did not know that Beaufort County has an 89.40/1000 live births percentage of low birth weights as compared to 79.98 nationally. These infants are describes as being below the 5.5 pounds at birth. These infants are at risk of having both mental and physical disabilities. The problem is that these infants are subject “to die in the first year of life more often than are infants of normal birth weight. The developmental problems of low birth weight infants exact a significant emotional and financial toll, often requiring increased levels of medical, educational, and parental care.” (EPA 2019) Some causes for low birth weight are: Smoking, drinking alcohol and using drugs. It was found that the use of these things are 3.5 times more likely to have a low birth weight baby as they slow the baby’s growth in the womb. Also, there are other factors such as exposure to air pollution and lead and lack of education and low income. One other factor that plays into low birth weight is domestic violence. The mother is so tired and abused she cannot focus on her pregnancy and therefore the fetus suffers. “With the exception of a small minority of low birth weight children with mental retardation and/or cerebral palsy, the developmental sequelae for most low birth weight infants include mild problems in cognition, attention, and neuromotor functioning.” (Hack, Kline, Taylor, 1995)
The chart below also shows low birth weight by race:

“About 1 in 7 black babies (about 13 percent)

About 1 in 12 Asian babies (about 8 percent)
About 1 in 13 American Indian/Alaska Native babies (about 7 percent)
About 1 in 14 Hispanic babies (about 7 percent)
About 1 in 14 white babies (about 7 percent)

We don’t know exactly why race plays a role in having a low-birth weight baby; researchers are working to learn more about it.” (March of Dimes, 2018) Beaufort County is a poorer county based on national statistics and this is part of the low birth weight problem. “The five-year average infant mortality rate is higher in North Carolina at 8.8/1000 as compared to 6.5/1000 nationally.” (EPA) Low birth weight was one of the reasons for this statistic. We need to find a way in this county to offset the poverty level in order that women can find a way to help their babies be born healthy. There are a few agencies that assist in this such as Coastal Pregnancy Center. This facility assists with educating pregnant women throughout their pregnancy. If they stick with the program their entire pregnancy they will receive such things as cribbing, car seats, clothing, and assistance with food for the mother and baby. This center helps direct the mother in areas where she can get help with such things as housing and food and assistance for domestic violence. This program also encourages the father to participate so that he can be a supporter in this endeavor. This program is good but it does not erase the fact that poverty exist at a high rate in this county, which statistics show leads to low birth weight. As a community health nurse, we have an obligation to assist those less fortunate than ourselves. As a community health nurse, we can visit schools and set up programs that will assist young adults with questions regarding pregnancy and birth control. We can also teach the young folks about the side effects of low birth weight and how it would impact not only the baby’s life but their life too. If we could teach these things at a younger age, than maybe we could ward off some of the low birth weight and help lead anyone who needs help in the direction to get help. We are not only hands-on nurses we are nurses of the conscious and if we can reach these young mothers that live in poverty and help them get the assistance they need then they have a better chance of having a healthy weight baby.
EPA (2019) United Stated Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved from:
http://www.epa.gov/myenvironment (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

March of Dimes. (March 2018) Low Birth Weigth. Retrieved from:
https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/low-birthweight.aspx (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

 

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