253973 Discussions with urban American Indian and Alaska Native parents: Keeping babies healthy and safe

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 3:30 PM

Shira P. Rutman, MPH , Urban Indian Health Institute, Seattle Indian Health Board, Seattle, WA
Background: The majority of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) reside in urban areas and experience striking disparities in infant mortality and maternal and child health (MCH) compared to the general population. Urban AI/ANs have unique exposures, barriers and experiences with regard to factors such as healthcare access, cultural identity and support systems.

Methods: With funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health we hosted discussions in partnership with urban Indian health organizations (UIHO) in Detroit, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, and Seattle with young AI/AN parents about keeping babies healthy and safe.

Results: Parents feel that a safe and stable environment is a priority for the baby. A strong native identity, native-specific resources, such as those offered at UIHO, and shared values among caregivers are supportive in breaking the unhealthy patterns described, such as alcohol and tobacco use, teen parenting and violence. Some of the barriers urban AI/AN parents experience are a lack of money, transportation and childcare, social isolation, stress, teen and single parenting, and conflicting family and community norms around topics such as nutrition, smoking, car seat use and safe sleep practices, especially across generations.

Conclusions: Study findings point to a lack of support as a significant barrier to keeping babies healthy and safe and provide unique insight into the connections between native identity and MCH for urban AI/ANs. Findings will inform the development of a campaign to increase awareness of and ultimately reduce infant mortality among AI/AN residing in urban areas and beyond.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the disparities in infant mortality among urban AI/AN. List three barriers urban AI/AN experience in keeping their babies healthy and safe. Describe native-specific resources available to urban AI/AN.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a MPH in Health Services with a concentration in MCH from the University of Washington’s School of Public Health. I have been working in public health internationally and domestically for 12 years. I have been working in urban Indian health with a focus on the health of women, infants and children and reproductive health for over 6 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.