June 23, 2018
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Meharry receives funding for program to help reduce infant mortality

(Nashville, Tenn.) ---(September 8, 2009) --- Meharry Medical College has received a $750,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination  for its Centering Pregnancy program which is designed to help reduce infant mortality and low birth weights.  

Centering Pregnancy at Meharry will hold an open house and baby shower on Tuesday, September 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Door prizes will be given to expectant mothers.  September 9 is also Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day.  Meharry will have an informational booth on FASD at the Metro Nashville General Hospital cafeteria beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday.


Centering Pregnancy at Meharry is one of four group care sites in Nashville that focuses on the centering model of health care delivery.  Centering is a model of group health care that incorporates assessment, education, and support which helps to reduce infant mortality and low birth weights.

Patients of the same gestational age are placed in groups of 8 to 12; they have their doctor visits at the same time. The model is thought to be more beneficial than traditional one-on-one prenatal care because patients bond and support each other.  Group patients receive more education about pregnancy, and they spend about 2 hours with their doctor per visit; compared to about 15 minutes per visit for traditional prenatal care.

“They spend more time with the provider who can answer questions about anything they want to talk about,” said Dr. Gwinnett M. Ladson, director of Centering Pregnancy at Meharry and Associate Professor and Residency Program Director. 

During the group sessions, doctors talk about misconceptions during child birth. They also place a strong emphasis on breastfeeding.

Dr.  Ladson said “the goal is to increase the number of babies carried to term which is between 37 and 39 weeks because babies born before 37 weeks have a higher infant mortality rate.”

Tennessee is known for its high infant mortality rate. In 2007, 718 babies born in Tennessee died before their first birthdays, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

“In this model, more patients can be seen; which decreases infant mortality,” Ladson said. 
The model also reduces health care cost.

“Any decrease in infant mortality will keep babies out of the ICU and will decrease overall health care costs,” Ladson said. “It’s the future.  It frees the doctor to see more patients; and when more patients are seen, health care cost decrease.”

Ladson said expectant mothers of any socioeconomic background can benefit from centering.  Centering Pregnancy at Meharry currently has two centering groups, but expects to have about 8 groups when it reaches its capacity. A group for teen mothers – which includes tutoring - is also in the works.


The open house will be held in conjunction with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day. FASD is the leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities. Governor Phil Bredesen proclaimed September 9, as FASD Awareness Day following a request from Dr. Roger Zoorob, Chair, Department of Family and Community Medicine and principal investigator of the Southeast Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Regional Training Center at Meharry.  

About Meharry Medical College 

Meharry Medical College is the nation’s largest private, independent, historically black academic health center dedicated solely to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church affiliated institution.   The College is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services; and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation’s health professions workforce. Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s ranking of institutions annually lists Meharry as a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees, and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences.  Visit www.mmc.edu to learn more.

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