September 6, 2010
State funding cuts to a program that provides neonatal care to expectant women mean that more than 100 Colquitt County mothers-to-be will not have the service next year.The elimination of funding, which took effect in June, will not affect women already enrolled in the program, called Babies Born Healthy.Of the 14 counties in the Southwest Public Health District, Colquitt County had the largest enrollment in 2009 with 137 plus an additional 12 in Ellenton, according to figures provided by the agency.Enrollments so far in 2010 total 124.“It was something the state could not help. They just don’t have the money,” said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, Southwest District Health director. “I know they had to weigh this against one of the other children’s programs.”In Colquitt County, the program served between 150 to 200 expectant mothers per year, she said.In 2009, 278 women in the 14-county health district were enrolled in Babies Born Healthy, with Colquitt County accounting for more than half of that total.Georgia has among the highest rates of infant mortality and low birth weight babies in the United States.The state’s infant morality rate improved from 10.1 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1994 to 8.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004, a Georgia Department of Human Resources report said.However, the agency noted that the rate of infant deaths for black babies, at 14 per 1,000 live births in 2004, was double the seven per 1,000 live births for white babies.In 2000, low birth weight accounted for two-thirds of infant deaths, the report said. The second most common cause of infant mortality was birth defects, followed by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS, fatal injuries and infections also affect black babies at double the frequency of white babies. Babies Born Healthy served 3,509 women across the state in 2009, at a cost of $2.9 million.