September 21, 2011

September: Infant Mortality Awareness Month

September is National Infant Mortality Month, but for Orlando midwife Jennie Joseph and her dedicated team, the fight to provide quality prenatal care to all expecting mothers and reduce the high infant mortality rate is a year-round campaign.

“Simply put, our babies are dying!” states Joseph, executive director of Commonsense Childbirth Inc. and the founder of The JJ Way® Maternity Health Care System, a program that successfully demonstrates reduced levels of infant mortality. “People just don’t realize the impact of infant mortality in our communities.” Joseph’s innovative maternal child health (MCH) program is designed to educate the public, community leaders, and elected officials on te need to reduce infant mortality and the practical steps to achieving that goal.

Joseph, who also operates The Birth Place, a multi-site birthing center , women’s health clinic and midwifery training program in Central Florida, remains committed to eliminating one of this country’s saddest and most preventable medical concerns – the high death rate among African American newborns and babies under the age of one. Statistics show that the infant mortality rate among African-Americans continues to be more than twice the rate among White babies and, according to a new report out just last week, babies in the United States have a higher risk of dying during their first month of life than do babies born in 40 other countries[1].

Medical experts agree that the two most prevalent causes of high infant mortality are premature births before the 37th week of pregnancy, and low birth weight. The Florida infant mortality rate has hovered around 8% for all races and 14% for African American women annually[2]. “These fragile babies are actually a result ,” says Joseph. “The cause is the lack of access to quality maternity healthcare as well as a lack of education and support, particularly for disenfranchised women who face multiple obstacles to finding help.”

A 2007 study[3] conducted at The Birth Place, utilizing The JJ Way® Maternity Health Care System, provided 100 participants with education, support and vital prenatal care. As a result, there were only 4 low birth weight babies born overall and no low birth weight babies to the African American or Hispanic women in the study. While national agencies such as Healthy Start and March of Dimes have led the charge by stressing the need to address this serious issue, Joseph believes that increased community awareness is essential to the campaign to eliminate these disparities. To that end, Commonsense Childbirth and The JJ Way® have developed extensive training and certification programs to increase the number of maternity healthcare providers, doulas, childbirth educators and community agencies willing to tackle this problem.

Additional information including a video can be found at

Jennie Joseph will be speaking at Bentley’s Cafe (805 Donald Ross Road Juno Beach) at 6:30pm on September 23rd. The event is open to the public. Ms. Joseph will also be holding a Doula Training September 24th and 25th at the Palm Beach Marriott. For more details regarding these events or information about Commonsense Childbirth, The Birth Place or The JJ Way, please contact Kathy Bradley at (321) 213-1112 or email

[3] Funded by Winter Park Health Foundation, Evaluated by Health Council of East Central Florida