Nov. 8—A research firm hired by the Frederick County Health Department to study the health of local Black mothers and their babies is organizing forums with Black mothers and people connected to them to discuss disparities in the county.
The firm, Washington, D.C.-based Health Management Associates, will host two “community conversations” with mothers on Wednesday — one in the morning and one in the evening. Another discussion will be held on Thursday for people who helped care for a mother.
Researchers will later share key points from the discussions with the local Health Department, according to a flyer about the conversations. The feedback of participants could help shape strategies the Health Department implements to address the long-standing health disparity.
Health Department staff members will not be at the forums, according to the flyer.
In Frederick County, Black women are more likely than white or Hispanic women to give birth by cesarean section, not receive early prenatal care and give birth before they’ve been pregnant for 37 weeks, according to data from the 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment.
In 2017, according to the report, the infant mortality rate for Black babies was more than twice the rate for white babies — 15.5 per 1,000 babies, compared to 6.1 per 1,000, respectively.
Babies born locally to Black mothers in 2017 were also more likely to have a low birth weight — meaning they weighed less than 5.5 pounds — and be born earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Reports in Frederick County going as far back as 2007 have identified similar patterns.
The Health Department received funding from the American Rescue Plan Act last winter to study the root causes for the disparities and identify ways to fix them.
Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner allocated $300,000 for the research, which Danielle Haskin — a health planner for the local Health Department — has said should take about a year.
The Health Department selected Health Management Associates to complete the study earlier this year because of its expertise in research that prioritizes community involvement, Haskin has said.
The forums on Wednesday will be held from 8- 9 a.m. and from 6-7 p.m. The forum on Thursday will be from 6-7 p.m. To participate in the conversation, submit an interest form at www.tinyurl.com/BMHComConvos.
People who participate in the forums will receive a $20 stipend, according to the flyer. The following Frederick County community members are welcome:
— Pregnant Black people
— Postpartum Black mothers
— Black mothers with children under 3 years
— Partners or spouses of a recent mother
— Caregivers or friends of a recent mother
— Women or family members who have experienced a pregnancy loss in the last three years
Follow Angela Roberts on Twitter: @24_angier