Louisville's Healthy Start program gets $4.6 million federal grant

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A program created to reduce infant mortality has been awarded a five-year, $4.6 million grant from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the grant to the Healthy Start program, an initiative by Louisville's Department of Public Health and Wellness to reduce the number of babies who die before their first birthday and improve the health of newborns in five west Louisville ZIP codes: 40203, 40208, 40210, 40211 and 40212.

According to a news release, the infant mortality rate in these neighborhoods is more than double the overall rate in Louisville.

"The ZIP Code that a baby is born into should not determine how long she will live or how healthy he will be," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement. "From the very beginning, my administration has been committed to making Louisville a healthier, more compassionate city that promotes life-long learning. This grant from the federal government is helping us to achieve this. Thanks to Congressman John Yarmuth for his continued work on behalf of our children and their families."

According to the news release, the Healthy Start program was launched in 1998 and has served 10,000 children and their families. Officials say the program, "promotes safe pregnancies by visiting the homes of pregnant women both before and after the birth of the child to ensure that women have early and continuous access to prenatal care, that they keep all their prenatal appointments and that newborns reach developmental milestones."

"Give it a chance," said Toni Lemons, a participant in the program. "They open you up to so many things, not just the cliche like handing you papers, but they have events — educational events that really open your eyes to things you might not consider. They even have connections with other services you might not think about, like postpartum depression."

The program provides additional services, including nutritional support, parenting classes, childhood immunizations, physical and mental health screenings and special fatherhood training.

For more information on Healthy Start, CLICK HERE.

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