Dental caries, the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States and in New York State (NYS) is preventable. Yet preventive dental care for pregnant women and their babies is seldom addressed. The Eastman Institute for Oral Health (EIOH) team continues to make a difference one mom and one child at a time to reverse this trend.
The Perinatal Home Visiting Program, part of the Child and Family Health Services of the Monroe County Department of Public Health, provides public health services designed to improve health and developmental outcomes for families and our community. The Perinatal Home Visiting Program has been around for 22 years although the name and the services provided have changed and expanded over the years.
The Community Health Worker/Parent Educator (CHW/PE) visits with enrolled families in their home during the prenatal period to prepare expecting moms for the birth of their baby and give them a head start in understanding infant care and development. The CHW/PE continues to visit during the post partum period to offer support and guidance until the baby is 1 year of age. Along with parenting education, the CHW/PE provides case management services to connect families with needed community resources and help them to achieve their goals.
A new curriculum for the Parents as Teachers (PAT) program includes group meetings with families, where parents can meet other parents and learn more about child development and parenting topics. “Given the high-risk population served by the Perinatal Visiting Program, Eastman Dental was pleased to participate in a group meeting focused on prenatal oral health and infant dental care,” said Lenora Colaruotolo, EIOH social worker. “Dr. Jeff Karp spoke about the importance of dental care during pregnancy and discussed oral health care for babies and toddlers. We provided education and guidance, answered many questions, and gave away hygiene items and brochures.
“The group meeting was a wonderful opportunity to share information about prenatal and newborn dental health. Families asked good questions with genuine interest in giving their child the best possible start in life,” Colaruotolo added.