1. Percentage of infants living in families below 200 percent of the poverty level.

    Families that are below the poverty level will have extremely limited financial resources for food, housing, and other essential aspects of daily living. For some families, assistance programs can mitigate some of the adverse effects of such limited financial resources. Even less extreme financial deprivation still poses a risk for infant health. Thus, communities might want to determine the proportion of infants in families with low but not poverty-level incomes.

Health Care

Many issues related to appropriate health care for mothers and infants have been alluded to above. Access to family planning services can help limit unintended pregnancy. Timely access to prenatal care services that include both suitable health behavior advice and prenatal care procedures has been shown to contribute to lower rates of low-weight births (Kogan et al., 1994; Kotelchuck, 1994). Guidance on the appropriate content of prenatal care can be provided by a source such as Caring for Our Future: The Content of Prenatal Care (U.S. Public Health Service, 1989). Many states and communities have established systems to screen pregnant women to ensure that high-risk pregnancies are cared for in facilities capable of dealing with problems that might arise. Mothers at high risk for delivering very low birth weight babies can be transferred to facilities with neonatal intensive care nursery services.

The appropriate application of neonatal intensive care can improve survival for those babies born prematurely or with serious health problems. Neonatal screening programs, discussed above, are an important health care service for dealing with treatable congenital defects. Screening can also identify problems such as hearing impairments. In addition, access is needed to well child care, including immunizations, and to sick child care in the event of illness. Within well child care, support for breast feeding can affect the likelihood that mothers initiate and continue this healthful process. The content of infant health care can be guided by sources such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and Bright Futures (Green, 1994).

Indicators that might be considered include the following:



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