National Public Health Week Celebrates Healthy Kids, Communities

Monday, April 03, 2006 | 07:00pm

State Department of Health Stresses “Every Baby Deserves a First Birthday”

Nashville, April 4, 2006

The American Public Health Association (APHA) and hundreds of partner organizations will explore ways that Americans can build healthier communities and healthier kids during National Public Health Week (NPHW), April 3rd through 9th, 2006.

The weeklong observance, themed “Designing Healthy Communities: Raising Healthy Kids” features unique focuses for each day of the week:

Monday, April Designing Healthy Communities: Raising Healthy Kids
Tuesday, April 4 Surrounding Our Kids with Equal Opportunities
Wednesday, April 5 Surrounding Our Kids with Physical Activity
Thursday, April 6 Surrounding Our Kids with Safety
Friday, April 7 Surrounding Our Kids with Clean Air

As part of the weeklong observance, the Tennessee Department of Health is also focusing this week on issues related to the state’s sobering infant mortality statistics. Tennessee is ranked 48th in the nation for infant mortality rate, the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Low birthweight (babies weighing less than five pounds, eight ounces); lack of prenatal care; mothers with less than a high school education; use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; and improperly placing babies on their stomachs to sleep can increase the risk of infant mortality.

“With small, gradual changes, adults can help children maintain or reach a healthy weight, and form healthful lifestyle habits,” said Health Commissioner Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D. “Of course, none of this is relevant if a child doesn’t make it past the first year of life. Infancy is a critical period where health disparities are seen. Every child must be afforded an equal opportunity to reach their first birthday.” 

Disparities are persistent in infant mortality: African-American babies are twice as likely to die before their first birthday than white babies, and black mothers are also twice as likely to receive inadequate or no prenatal care as white mothers. Further, black infants die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) more than twice as often as white infants.

An Infant Mortality Summit on April 21 in Memphis will bring together state and community leaders to address and develop a plan to reduce infant mortality in Tennessee, in hopes of launching a statewide dialogue about reducing infant deaths. Topics to be addressed include healthy women, healthy youth, improving birth outcomes, the first year of life and the role of the father.

County health departments across the state are celebrating National Public Health Week in various ways. For more information about activities in your area, please contact your local health department. A list of health departments statewide is available at

Please visit the Department of Health’s new Infant Mortality Web site for information about women’s health, infant health, pregnancy, teen health and statistics and facts on infant mortality at

Public health is unique in its role of providing community-based services to protect and promote the health of entire populations, preventing disease, disability and premature death, and responding to public health crises. Established in 1995 as a way of recognizing the contributions of public health and prevention services to our country’s well-being, April 2006 marks the 11th annual observance of NPHW. APHA reaches out to policy-makers, public health officials and partner groups across the country to empower them to assess the status of the built environment (neighborhood design and man-made structures like buildings, roads and sidewalks) and children’s health in their communities, identify areas for improvement and implement model programs. APHA is working with select partners to develop a Community Report Card that may be used to evaluate the current state and impact of the built environment on children. The report card will include evaluation of the built environment as it relates to the specific issues of access and equity, physical activity, injury prevention and asthma. For more information about NPHW, please visit

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