Purpose: The Texas Healthy Start Alliance was organized exclusively for the purpose of addressing community-based maternal and child health issues focusing on promoting healthy lifestyles for women of childbearing age, maximizing participation in prenatal care, reduction of infant mortality, low birth weight, racial, ethnic and border area specific disparities in perinatal outcomes.
Vision: "The Texas Healthy Start Alliance will demonstrate leadership in eliminating infant mortality and racial disparities in Maternal Child Health throughout the State of Texas."
Mission: "To ensure that all Texas babies have an equal chance for a healthy life."
Guiding Principles: "The Texas Healthy Start Alliance will accomplish its mission through education, advocacy, capacity-building, and research."
Incorporation: Articles of Incorporation were issued on July 25, 2003, establishing the Texas Healthy Start Alliance as a non-profit corporation serving the Healthy Start projects and their communities throughout the state of Texas.
The availability of and access to preventive health care and health education regarding infant mortality, and low birth weight births remains a major public health issue among communities throughout the U.S. Infant mortality and low birth weight births among African American women is more than twice that of Non-Hispanic White women. This is also the case in many border communities. For Hispanics and American Indians, the infant mortality/morbidity and low birth weight rates are significantly higher than that of the Non-Hispanic Whites population.
Improving perinatal outcomes requires enhancing the behavior and lifestyle choices of the women while pregnant. Risk-taking behaviors or attention to good health practices while pregnant is a major cause of poor birth outcomes. The most effective way to change these behaviors is to engage women in early prenatal care and to find ways to encourage them to make changes in their personal lifestyles. Without ongoing, extensive community-based programs, such as Healthy Start, it is unlikely that the gap in racial disparities related to birth outcomes will be positively impacted.
The fact that African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and other minorities continue to have increased rates of poor perinatal outcomes, poses a major public health issue for Texas and the U.S. The rate of low birth weight births has not decreased significantly in the last decade and now appears to be increasing. Low birth weight births can have significant financial ramifications, both short-term and long-term. These costs are not well understood by the general public. Poor perinatal outcomes can be impacted by promoting behavior change— and behavior change can be influenced by intensive, individual-based interventions at the community level.