The MIHOW Program targets economically disadvantaged and geographically and/or socially isolated families with children birth to age 3. The program is designed to improve health and child development among these families. Learn more about the characteristics and risk factors of MIHOW moms.
MIHOW is helping women have better birth outcomes by:
MIHOW is a cost-effective way to improve birth outcomes and ensure future health of our nation’s children.
Babies born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2,500 grams) are at increased risk for health problems, lasting disabilities, and high health care costs.
Average length and cost of hospital stay for preterm/low birth weight babies is 12.9 days and $15,100, versus 1.9 days and $600 for other newborns (Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample, 2001)
Cost to Medicaid is $6.4 billion in the first seven years of life of preterm babies
Preterm births cost society at least $26 billion per year in costs of care for short and long term health conditions, educational expenditures and lost productivity
Women can reduce the chance of having a low birth weight baby before they become pregnant by controlling diabetes and hypertension, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and ensuring they are free of infections and up-to-date on vaccinations.
The risk of having a low birth weight baby decreases with early and regular prenatal care, good nutrition, prenatal vitamins, especially folic acid, and not smoking (March of Dimes 2007, Institute of Medicine 2006)
Much low birth weight can be prevented. MIHOW participants have lower incidence of low birth weight than mothers without MIHOW, at a cost of approximately $2000 per family per year compared to a possible cost of $15,000 for hospital care of a low birth weight baby.
The following graph shows birth weight rates for 2011. The percentage of low birth weight babies born to all MIHOW mothers during the program year was 7.5%, even lower than the target of 7.8% for the 2020 Healthy People Objective.
Establishing an immunization routine is based on parental behavior and influenced by the MIHOW program.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. MIHOW mothers do this at higher than national levels.
Breastfeeding enhances child health and development, and facilitates early learning. Regardless of race, MIHOW mothers receiving WIC in Tennessee are nearly twice as likely to breastfeed as non-MIHOW WIC mothers and are more likely to continue breastfeeding for six months.
A nurturing style of parenting is a protective factor for child maltreatment. 20 Based on the Home Observation for the Measurement of the Environment 21, MIHOW mothers scored significantly higher (p<.001) than non MIHOW mothers on emotional and verbal responsiveness to the child, avoidance of restriction and punishment, organization of the environment, involvement with the child, provision of appropriate play materials, and opportunities for variety in daily stimulation. 26
In a 12 month period, 13 percent of US 2-year-olds are injured seriously enough to need medical attention. 22 In spite of their low income, children in MIHOW families have far fewer injuries than children in families with greater resources (1% of MIHOW two year olds vs. 13 % of US two year olds).
Reading to young children promotes their cognitive development and leads to success in school and life.