The Iowa Department of Public Health is getting its first look at information from a cooperative project with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that surveys the mothers of newborns in the state.
Coordinator Sarah Mauch says it’s called the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Survey or PRAMS. “We are one of 40 states participating in this project and Iowa is very new to PRAMS. We started our data collection with babies born in 2013 — where some other states started in the late 80’s,” Mauch says. She says more than 5,000 Iowa mothers have been asked to provide information on their experiences and behaviors before, during and after pregnancy.
Mauch says the survey provided them with new information on how many mothers put their babies on their backs to sleep, those results raised some concern. “Our non-Hispanic white and Hispanic moms, over 80 percent of them put their babies on their back to sleep, compared to our non-Hispanic black moms, where it was about 68 percent,” Mauch says. “And that back to sleep position is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”
Mauch says they have been trying to educate mothers about the importance of a baby’s sleeping position. “Not using that position does babies at a higher risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome . So that is something we have been working on and will continue working on, but this does help us at least tailor our massaging,” Mauch says.
She says it could be a cultural issue for mothers who are following what they’ve been taught. “This is the way my mom did it, that’s the way I will do it, that’s how we’ll just keep doing it, because I am fine and I am here so it worked out okay for me. But, we do want to make sure that all caregivers of infants know the correct position for the baby to sleep in,” according to Mauch. “That includes daycare providers, that includes grandparents, partners, spouses, that may be involved in putting babies down to sleep.”
Another thing that caught Mauch’s attention was the response from women about their visits to the dentist during pregnancy. “One of the things that surprised me personally is how many women who know that it is important to take care of their teeth during their pregnancy — but then only 64 percent are actually getting a cleaning during their pregnancy,” Mauch says.
She says this is another area that women need to follow through on when pregnant. “We do know that oral health plays a role in low-birth and pre-term birth,” Mauch says, “and so if women are going into their pregnancies with poor oral health and not correcting problems, it can have an immunological response that leads to poor outcomes for babies.”
Iowa got a response from 72 percent of the mothers in 2013, which well above the 60 percent minimum required for the PRAMS data to be considered valid. Mauch says since there is only one year of data, some of the trends won’t be identified until the data from other is analyzed.
To learn more about PRAMS, visit: idph.iowa.gov/prams.