Priority Area 4: Healthy Mothers, Babies, and Youth
The well-being of mothers, infants, and children influences the health of the next generation and forecasts the future health challenges of Montana families, communities, and the health care system. Unintended pregnancy can results in adverse maternal and child health outcomes. In 2015, 32% of Montana births were unintended and of these, 7% were the result of an unwanted pregnancy. Women with unintended pregnancies are more likely to engage in risky behaviors during pregnancy, such as smoking and drinking. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), which can lead to intellectual and developmental disabilities for the growing child. Among American Indian women and young adult women (aged 18 to 24 years), one in three pregnancies are reported as intended.
Approximately 12,000 live births occur each year in Montana. The majority of infant deaths in Montana are sleep-related incidents. In 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported the national breastfeeding initiation rate was 65%, while the rates among Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participants was 70%. Montana's WIC breastfeeding rate is higher than the national rate at 78%, but still lower than the Healthy People 2020 target rate of 82%. Low birth weight and preterm birth are associated with numerous poor birth outcomes, including respiratory distress syndrome, retinopathy, jaundice, infections, and other serious conditions. They are also associated with developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, developmental disabilities, and obesity later in life. Montana's American Indian populations have disproportionately higher rates of preterm birth at 13%, compared to 9% for all Montana births.