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Chester County is one of the wealthiest counties in the state, but many local children are at risk of serious health problems such as being born too small (under 5.5 pounds) or too early (before 37 weeks). These health problems not only affect the children and their families, but the entire community. For example, all health care payers – public and private – share the cost of caring for premature babies. And according to recent research, the average medical costs for a preterm baby were more than 10 times higher than for a healthy full-term baby. The average costs for a healthy baby from birth to his first birthday were $4,551. For a preterm baby, these costs were $49,033!
Studies are clear about what obstacles stand in the way of a healthy baby. Our Healthy Start services (in Spanish and English) target these risk factors during a woman’s pregnancy and in her child’s earliest years to ensure a healthy family. An independent study of Healthy Start’s first 14 years (1996-2009) showed that babies born to Healthy Start moms in our target communities were healthier than babies of moms in the same communities who were not enrolled. Check out the full Impact Report, Healthy Start: Reducing Health Disparities (1996-2009).
As babies born too early and too small may face long-term effects, investments in the health of young children result in a real financial return for communities – with fewer costs going to medical care and special education, lower school dropout rates, less crime, and a higher probability that parents will be able to work steadily and their kids will grow up to contribute to our economy. Today, it’s more important than ever to make sure your investments have a direct impact on the families of Chester County.