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Community Doula Program - Community Needs Addressed

Community Needs Addressed


Note: In 2006 the CDP merged with a strategic partner; this page is kept for historical purposes only.

Education and Health Literacy. A June 2004 report by the US Census Bureau revealed that for the second year in a row Texas had the lowest school-graduation rate in the country. In Houston only 55% of young Latinas graduated from high school with pregnancy being a primary reason to drop-out; the drop-out rate in some schools is higher. We served two areas of Houston, in Spring Branch 15% of children were born to teenage mothers and 43% of mothers did not have a high school diploma; those numbers were 19% and 60% respectively for the East End. This is symptomatic of a greater problem: ≈at the time, 48% of Americans struggled with low health literacy costing the health care system up to $73 billion in added expenses per year (American Medical Association, 2003 report).

Neonatal Healthcare Costs: The rate of premature births jumped 13% since 1992 (29% since 1981!) In Texas, the increase was 21% since 1992. The tremendous costs of prematurity are exemplified by single statistic: Low birth-weight accounts for 10% of all health care costs for children (March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, 2000 report.)

Other Healthcare Costs and Long-Term Breastfeeding: In Texas more than 28% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 are obese, putting them at-risk for severe problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Nevertheless, babies who are breastfed are 30% less-likely to become obese later in life, prompting the CDC to make long-term breastfeeding one of the four recommendations to address childhood obesity. Similarly compelling data exists for type-I (insulin-dependent) diabetes, digestive and respiratory problems.

Early Brain Development and Mental Health: Some of the most marking and irreversible abuse and neglect takes place during the first few months of life: The baby's brain, particularly the frontal lobes, continues developing at the same intense prenatal rate until the ninth month after birth. This has profound ramifications for the development of the cognitive and emotive capacities of the child during adolescence and adulthood. Studies have shown the striking relationship between separation of mother and child and lack of skin-to-skin contact (and breastfeeding) to later levels of depression, suicide and violence, particularly sexual violence (Prescott, J.W. (1996) The Origins of Human Love and Violence. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal. 10(3):143-188 ).

Changing Demographics: Between 1990 and 2000 Houston's general population increased by 19.8% but the Latino population grew by 62.2%. The Harris County Hospital District projects a 92% increase in patients by the year 2015. Uninsured patients served will increase from 23% to 43%, the Latino population from 23% to 48% of HCHD patients (US Census Bureau, 2000 and HCHD Data, 2004.)

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