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Food for Thought from North Carolina

On November 15, 2012, the Forsyth County Infant Mortality Reduction Coalition in partnership with the March of Dimes, Healthy Start Baby Love Plus Network and Forsyth Medical Center hosted a conference called Taking the Life Course Perspective to Promote Preconception Health and Health Care: Towards the Promise for Equity in Birth Outcomes. Speakers included Merry-K Moos who presented on the Life Course Perspective and Vijaya Hogan who presented on the Impact of Social Disadvantage on Preconception Health. Both speakers provided important insights on these two major schools of thought in preconception health. Dr Hogan spoke about the necessity of recognizing the intersectionality of race, gender, history and class in our work – particularly as these impact African American women. We have many challenges ahead in addressing health inequities for African American women who have five risk areas: historic, acccumulated disadvantage, current social disadvantage, structural embodiments of inequity and epigenetic risks (changes in a woman’s biology and that of her women due to impact of other risks).

In the afternoon Judy Ruffin spoke about North Carolina’s successful Peer-to-Peer Preconception Health Educator program. Two energetic and dedicated college students from Winston Salem State University shared their experiences with the program. I left convinced that our best allies in reaching young women are young women themselves! Alvina Long Valentin provided an excellent overview of North Carolina’s preconception activities and strategic plan as well as our achievements from the past few years. And I had the chance to end the conference by sharing information about Regional and National Preconception Health activities. I included information about the National Preconception Workgroups as well as work and resources from other states. As always I had a chance to showcase Every Woman Southeast and remain so encouraged at the enthusiasm people in the field, doing the work, have for our Coalition.

Sound interesting? The great people in Forsyth County have agreed to make pdfs of the speaker slides available to us. Just click here to access their presentations. I was reminded me that we have made strong progress over the past 7 years in moving preconception health forward in creative and comprehensive ways.

With my favorite holiday just a few days away, I have to say that I’m thankful that I have the chance to do this work in this time and place with amazing colleagues from across the Southeast. Thank you!

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