New health alliance strives to improve prenatal birth outcomes

updated By Stefan Dimitrof

A health providers alliance has launched today to improve the health outcomes of mothers and babies at risk of pre-term birth.

Some 4500 births have been counted as being pre-term (born before 37 weeks) being the main cause of prenatal death and with the potential to leave surviving newborns with lifelong disabilities and poor health conditions.

University of Otago neonatologist and senior lecturer Dr Liza Edmonds (nō Ngāpuhi, Ngāti whātua) said the name of the Carosika Collaborative came from a whanau, which had a baby far too early, which unfortunately didn’t survive.

“The whanau kindly gifted that name; the thought of having these babies who are born too early and are flourishing when they are.”

Edmonds said the drivers of this kaupapa were preventing pepe deaths and helping ensure their lifelong health.

She said the location of people throughout the motu could determine access to quality of care, especially for remote and rural areas of Aotearoa.

'Reducing pre-term birth rates'

“Pre-term prevention clinics aren’t available across the country, so it varies how you can access care depending on where you live but it shouldn’t matter where you live. Everyone should be able to have that.”

Edmonds said that mothers of white ethnicity were likelier to have better outcomes so babies less likely to be born early, less likely to die and less likely to have incomplete information.

"It’s difficult for people to hear. I think that it’s a symptom of the things that the Perinatal & Maternal Mortality Review Committee report talked about two days ago about things like structural racism and that it exists in our health system.”

Edmonds said the Carosika Collaborative had ambitious goals of reducing pre-term birth rates for all ethnic groups.

“What usually happens with health initiatives is that it improves for one group but not for everyone, so 20% reduction there we go, we have a target for pre-term birth rates.

“That would be a significant number of whanau that won't need interventions to come to see someone like me and I think that is really important.”

“We’d like to see a twenty per cent increase in access: Did you get anti-natal care, did you get the right care before your pepe was born? And we’d like to see a twenty per cent improvement to see you being born in the right place.”