January 23, 2009

MIHOW program to add new sites

The Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker (MIHOW) program will open two new sites in Nashville this spring.

The new MIHOW sites are being founded with support from the Governor's Office of Child Care Coordination, United Neighborhood Health Services and the Community Foundation. Catholic Charities sponsors another MIHOW program in Nashville, which primarily serves Spanish-speaking women.

The MIHOW program uses local women as its primary staff, and is a partnership between the Vanderbilt University Center for Health Services (CHS) and community-based organizations in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia.

These women visit pregnant women and families with young children in their home to promote healthy living and self-sufficiency.

In a study published this week in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers report that prenatal home-visitation programs that focus on social support, health education and providing access to services hold promise for reducing low birthweight deliveries among at-risk women and adolescents.

“We are thrilled to see this evidence,” said Tonya Elkins, director of MIHOW. “The study reconfirms what we have long known — that a helping relationship between two women who meet regularly in the home of the struggling mother can improve infant health. This program of Vanderbilt's Center for Health Services has had similar results in Memphis and the state of Mississippi, where low birthweight rates of MIHOW mothers are far lower than for women who don't receive MIHOW home visits.”