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Pre-Natal Care Important Community Issue From Quality of Life Study

May 5, 2010

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That's what really stood out to Tihara Vargars, director of special projects at the Waco Foundation, who commissioned the study by the Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition. They had the point driven home that the poverty cycle doesn't just affect people from the crib on up. It also has an affect on the unborn.

High school age mothers or those just making ends meet aren't often thinking about how their lifestyle shapes the development of their unborn child. It's something that Maria Aguilar of the Family Health Center sees all the time from her offices just north of Colcord and 18th Street.

The TECEC study found that communities in South and East Waco, as well as Bellmead, were vastly under-utilizing pre-natal services. In many cases, in fact, pregnant women are unaware of the importance of their lifestyle choices on their unborn child and unaware of the services offered. A nurse at the Family Health Center, Aguilar was one of the community members interviewed to gave a qualitative insight to the quantitative data. She didn't need to see the data to know that too many infants and young mothers were being missed. Aguilar had some new ideas and hopes to expand existing programs.

Oftentimes, they don't catch the mothers until after the baby is born. But her hope is to educate young mothers about the development of their unborn child each step of the way, to ensure that development occurs as it should. By the time the child is struggling in school years down the line, it's often too late.

It's a difficult proposal. For many living in poverty, the stresses of a pregnancy or parenthood only add to the stresses of paying bills or finding work. Often, it takes only a small inconvenience to keep them away from checkups or opportunities that will benefit their baby.

There's no comprehensive answer to the questions of educating mothers-to-be and current mothers, but Aguilar is encouraged that the community is taking a serious look at the issue. She's excited that it's an area that educators and leaders will be focusing on, and is hopeful that the TECEC study, along with the continuing efforts of the Greater Waco Education Alliance, will continue to foster cooperation and a concerted effort to improve the quality of life for community children.

You can see the study online at www.kwbu.org/childstudy. We'll continue to look at areas related to the Quality of Life Study in the coming days, prior stories are on our website. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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