Oh Baby, We Have Work to Do!

Author: Jamila Shields, MPH

Prioritizing Infant and Mortality Priorities through Community Health Needs Assessments in Georgia

Many Georgians, especially those who live in rural communities, depend on the support of community partners and local hospitals to assist in maintaining their health. In the State of Georgia, 93.6% of residents from 136 counties are seen and treated at a 501(c)(3) nonprofit operated organization or an authority operated nonprofit acute care hospital. As a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, these 108 nonprofit organizations must conduct Community Health Needs Assessments(CHNA) which assess community health needs and suggest strategies to improve the public’s health. CHNAs are conducted by:

1. defining the community or service area that the hospital serves,
2. gathering information about the service area,
3. involving the community,
4. prioritizing specific needs to address based on results from community, internal and external stakeholders and,
5. implementing programs based on the needs of the community

As Georgia ranks 43rd for premature births, 47th 2 for low birthweight babies, 32nd 2 for infant mortality, and 48th 2 for maternal mortality, it is disheartening to report that only 21 (19%) hospitals in the state prioritized maternal and infant health. 2016 CHNAs included prioritization of health concerns such as stroke, cancer, child abuse and neglect, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. However, though these health issues certainly impact M&I outcomes, it is also important that hospitals prioritize M&I as a standalone issue.

In 2018, HMHB evaluated hospital CHNAs to assess if they prioritized maternal and infant health (M&I). HMHB looked for data such as percent of low birthweight, percent of premature births, and adequacy of prenatal care utilization (APNCU) . In the United States, 8.1% of babies were born with a low birthweight. In Georgia alone, 9.5% of babies are born with low birthweight which surpasses the national average by 1.4%. Out of the 87 hospitals that did not focus on M&I, we chose to take an in depth look at 7 hospitals based on their service areas and high percentages of low birthweight babies, premature births and inadequate APNCU. Of the 7 hospitals, 71% served counties with low birthweights greater than the state average. All of the hospitals served counties where the percent of premature births exceeded Georgia’s average of 11.2% , and 57% of mothers in the service areas received inadequate (less than 50%) prenatal care. For more information on the hospitals reviewed, register for the webinar here.

It is imperative that resources are provided for mothers to sustain healthy pregnancies and life thereafter. At best, hospitals that operate as nonprofit organizations should prioritize addressing the epidemic of low birthweight babies, maternal deaths, and infant mortality in the State of Georgia. Hospitals should partner with public health professionals, practitioners, state health departments, and communities to gather information from their communities and create CHNAs that will provide the necessary resources for healthy mothers and babies in their communities.

Are you interested in helping your local hospital prioritize maternal and infant health in their next CHNA process?
Are you a hospital interested in receiving data analytics and technical assistance on prioritizing maternal and infant health in your CHNA?

Email Jamila Shields at

The following search terms were used to locate maternal and infant health prioritization in hospitals 2016 CHNAs and implementation strategies: prenatal, maternal infant child health, infant mortality, maternal mortality, fetal deaths, premature births, live pregnancies, low birthweight, poverty and infant mortality rates, STD/HIV, hypertension, obesity and fetal birth, access to care, mortality rates, preventative care, women’s health, infant health, and perinatal.


1 Georgia Department of Public Health, Office of Health Indicators for Planning OASIS. (2018). Retrieved from
2 State Summaries Georgia | 2016 Health of Women and Children Report. (2016). Retrieved from
3 Also known as Kotelchuck is a measurement to describe prenatal care in the United States
4 FastStats. (2017, March 31). Retrieved from
5 Explore Low Birthweight in Georgia | 2017 Annual Report. (2018). Retrieved from
6 Premature Birth Report Card. (n.d.). Retrieved from