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Effective programs have reduced Baltimore infant mortality

Kudos to all the programs that have contributed to the reduction in infant mortality in Baltimore. ("Md. infant mortality hits record low," August 24).

I would like to mention two highly effective programs: Family Support Centers and Home Visiting programs, both of which build trusting relationships within communities in order to effectively engage women in prenatal care and partner with new mothers to ensure that their infants thrive.

Located in five Baltimore neighborhoods with high rates of teen parenting and poverty, Family Support Centers reach out to pregnant women and new parents, engaging them in programs/services that increase the odds for child health and well-being. Home visiting services, delivered by Family Support Centers and seven other agencies in Baltimore, deliver similar programs to pregnant women and new parents who face challenges in gaining access to center-based resources.

Home visiting interventions help pregnant women and mothers learn about prenatal care, parenting education, nutrition, breast feeding, and safe sleep practices, while connecting them, as needed, to health care, mental health services, drug and alcohol treatment, and violence prevention.

By reaching the most vulnerable and isolated parents, home visiting programs help families most at risk for poor outcomes, including infant mortality. Evidence shows that when families volunteer to receive home-based support in partnership with trained professionals, their children are born healthier and are less likely to suffer from abuse or neglect.

Maryland Family Network will work to ensure ongoing public and private funding for these programs that reduce Baltimore's infant mortality rate.

Peter C. Hitt, Baltimore

The writer is president of the board of the Maryland Family Network

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