The Louisiana Department of Health and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – Louisiana Section has announced a new program designed to address poor birth outcomes in Louisiana. The Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral, and Treatment (SBIRT) program hopes to reduce the use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use during pregnancy.  The program also screens and provides appropriate referral for domestic violence and depression in pregnancy.

In addition to LDH and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, other project collaborators include DHH’s Maternal and Child Health Program, DHH’s Office for Addictive Disorders, DHH’s Office of Mental Health, the March of Dimes and the Louisiana Public Health Institute.

According to Dr. Rodney Wise, medical director for the Maternal and Child Health Program, a statewide Needs Assessment conducted in 2004 identified several factors that increase infant mortality rates.

“Substance abuse and mental health issues are the primary risk factors for pregnant women in Louisiana. When these health factors are not addressed, birth outcomes are negatively impacted,” he said.

In 2004, Louisiana was ranked 49th in high rates of infant mortality, surpassed only by Mississippi.

The SBIRT program will kickoff in Monroe at 11:30 a.m. on May 1 at the University of Louisiana at Monroe Library, and again in Alexandria at 8 a.m. on May 2 at the Rapides Foundation Building.  Both events will include a training seminar provided by Dr. Ira J. Chasnoff, President of the Children’s Research Triangle and Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago.

Dr. Chasnoff is a nationally recognized speaker on substance abuse in pregnancy and effects on the developing child.

According to Yvonne Cook, RN, “By addressing social factors that negatively impact pregnancy, this program increases our number of healthy babies and contributes to a healthier Louisiana.”