University of Mississippi Center for Population Studies Partners with Interdisciplinary Team to Plan a Breastfeeding Program to Help Low Birth Weight Babies from the Mississippi Delta

The University of Mississippi Center for Population Studies has been invited to partner with a diverse group of organizations to plan, implement, and evaluate a program to use breastfeeding to improve the health outcomes for low birth weight babies from the Delta region of Mississippi. This is part of an expansion of the Right! from the Start Program.

Right! from the Start, a program focused on maternal-child health, will continue work in the Delta region of Mississippi, through a new W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant to the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi. Planning over the course of an eight-month period will culminate in a hospital-based initiative to increase the breastfeeding rates for low birth weight babies. Right! from the Start began in 2011 through support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Babies in Mississippi have long had a greater chance of dying before their first birthdays than babies in many other states. Furthermore, preterm and low birth weight rates are high in Mississippi, especially in the Delta region. This project will address breastfeeding initiation for very low birth weight babies admitted to the Level III neonatal care unit (NICU) at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson. The geographic focus for this project consists of mothers and babies from five counties in the Delta having high numbers of low and very low birth weight babies (Bolivar, Coahoma, Leflore, Sunflower, Washington).

When piloted, the NICU program seeks to increase the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding for very low birth weight babies and the provision of mother’s breast milk for babies while in the NICU and after returning home. The program will provide evidence concerning whether a mother’s milk makes a difference in the outcomes of the “sickest” babies, and these results can be translated to the broader population of premature and low birth weight babies.

A multi-agency approach will be the key to success. Sannie Snell will serve as the Program Director. Snell has extensive experience in healthcare administration, business development, and start-up operations, marketing, along with health planning within varied health care settings including corporate, private and public health organizations. “I appreciate the opportunity to work with the Community Foundation and to assist in leading a collaborative effort with various agencies and organizations throughout the state to make a difference in birth outcomes and improve the lives of vulnerable children throughout the Delta,” stated Snell.

Additional partners with this planning project include Mobolaji E. Famuyide from the Division of New Born Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and John J. Green, Director of the University of Mississippi Center for Population Studies. Working with Snell, these applied researchers will assist with program planning, research, and evaluation. This team will also engage with the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services Center based in Clarksdale and led my Aurelia Jones Taylor, along with other health centers in the Delta region.

About the University of Mississippi Center for Population Studies
The University of Mississippi Center for Population Studies (CPS) is a unit of the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. The CPS educates, conducts research, and engages in public outreach concerning population issues. It works in collaboration with numerous other partners within the UM system and beyond, including colleges/universities, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. Among its programmatic initiatives, the CPS is the lead agency of the State Data Center for Mississippi and the Institute for Community-Based Research.

About The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi
The Community Foundation manages 133 donor-established funds and has distributed $13.9 million to support 420 charitable organizations and activities recommended by its donors, as well as charitable programs established by the foundation. Established in 2002 with a generous grant from the Maddox Foundation, the Community Foundation is an independent 501.c.3 charitable organization. The Foundation serves Bolivar, Coahoma, DeSoto, Leflore, Marshall, Panola, Quitman, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, and Tunica counties. A board of 17 volunteer civic leaders governs the Community Foundation. Learn more about the Community Foundation at http://www.cfnm.org or call 662.449.5002.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the US are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit http://www.wkkf.org.

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