National March of Dimes president to keynote UT System conference on maternal and infant health

AUSTIN— Jennifer Howse, Ph.D., president of March of Dimes, will keynote Healthy Beginnings 2016, a two-day educational conference for perinatal health professionals in Texas. The conference will be held Nov. 15-16 and is being hosted by the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies (TCHMB), a joint initiative of The University of Texas System and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

In addition to Dr. Howse’s keynote lecture, national speakers include Dr. Scott Berns, M.D., president of the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality, along with Arthur James, M.D., of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and Elizabeth Howell, M.D., of Mount Sinai in New York, both experts on racial disparities in health care.

Speakers from The University of Texas at Austin, Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Department of State Health Service also will be featured along with presentations on the work being done by the TCHMB subcommittees on obstetrics, neonatology and community health.

“This is an opportunity for perinatal health professionals to hear from some of the leading voices in their field in the state and the nation,” said Dr. David Lakey, associate vice chancellor for population health and chief medical officer for UT System. “It’s also an opportunity for people to learn more about, and engage with, the urgent work that the Collaborative is doing.”

TCHMB is a collaboration of over 150 healthcare providers, scientists, hospitals, state agencies, advocates and insurers whose goal is to design projects, collect research data, develop strategies and evaluate plans to improve birth outcomes in Texas, where the rate of preterm births and Cesarean sections exceeds national averages. It’s funded by the Department of State Health Services and staffed by epidemiologists and public health professionals at UT Health Northeast and The University of Texas System.

One of the UT System’s “Quantum Leaps” is to improve health care for all Texans by leveraging the size and expertise of UT institutions as well as partnerships with entities throughout the state.

Currently the Collaborative is developing three major quality improvement interventions: 1) increasing on-time access into prenatal care, 2) reducing failed inductions of labor to ultimately reduce primary cesarean sections, and 3) increasing the use of human breast milk in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) to decrease infections, particularly necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe infection and inflammation of the intestine common in premature infants.

The Healthy Beginnings conference is being hosted by March of Dimes, the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Children’s Hospital Pavilion for Women, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) District XI, the Driscoll Health Plan and UTMB Health. Registration is open through Nov.10 for the conference, which will be held at the Commons Learning Center at UT Austin’s J.J. Pickle Research Campus. Continuing education credit for multiple disciplines will be provided.

About The University of Texas System
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 221,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System’s operating budget for FY 2017 is $17.9 billion, including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and many members of the National Academies – and nearly 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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