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A group of men (Board of Supervisors) standing behind three women (BLACK Wellness & Prosperity Center and First 5) in the board room

We joined with partners, First 5 Fresno County, to proclaim November Prematurity Awareness Month in the County of Fresno. Thank you to the Board of Supervisors for recognizing this important issue.

Find more resources regarding Preterm Birth here:

Prematurity Awareness Month Proclamation

Fresno County Board of Supervisors: November 7, 2023

1. Whereas: Preterm birth is defined as the delivery of an infant before 37 weeks of pregnancy, which can cause infant mortality and a lifetime of health complications. Preterm birth is the leading cause of infant mortality for babies under 1 years old in the United States. In Fresno County, the preterm birth rate is one of the highest out of any California county at 10.16%, which is higher than the California state average of 8.95%. In Fresno County, infant mortality is highest among Black babies at 12.2 per 1000 live births, compared to 2.4 per 1000 births for white babies and an overall infant mortality rate of 5.2.

2. Whereas: In 2021, preterm birth is highest among Black women at a rate of 14.7% compared to white women at a rate of 9.5% and an average across all races at 10.5% in the United States. Decreasing premature birth requires addressing racial and ethnic disparities in all aspects of healthcare administration and access across federal, state, and local governments.

3. Whereas: In California, infant mortality among Black infants declines as resources in the neighborhood improve. In the most privileged neighborhoods in California, Black infants are about half as likely to die before their first birthdays as those living in the most disinvested neighborhoods.

4. Whereas: Strategies to advance health equity for Black birthing people and their infants include naming structural racism as a key driver of health inequities, and involving the Black community in authentic community engagement that centers their voices and fosters ongoing bi-directional power-sharing relationships.

5. Whereas: Doulas, trained non-medical professionals, provide non-medical pregnancy support and have been shown to reduce adverse maternal and infant health outcomes among Black and other underserved communities. Doula support throughout pregnancy and during and after labor has been shown to reduce preterm birth rates, reduce low-birthweight births, and other risk of preventable infant and maternal mortality for women of color.

6. Whereas: Doula support can play a key role in providing culturally congruent postpartum care and has been shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration especially among low-income and Black women. Human breastmilk provides the recommended source of nutrition for the baby in the first six months of life and breastfeeding contributes to lower breast and ovarian cancer rates among breastfeeding mothers.

7. Whereas: Over 80% of maternal deaths are preventable. The causes of preterm birth are complex and overlapping, requiring policy changes to improve individual and community health. No women or child should die of a preventable cause. Eliminating racial disparities in health outcomes requires an understanding of the underlying causes of racial disparities in outcomes and a commitment to systematic change. These include actions advancing (1) institutional accountability and data accessibility, (2) Black birth justice workforce development and sustainability, and (3) Community-Based Care.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Fresno County Board of Supervisors hereby proclaim November 7 2023 Prematurity Awareness Day and encourages all citizens to be aware of the effects of preterm birth and the ways in which we can work together to combat it.

Photo of the Proclamation


Source for 1:

California Department of Public Health: “Preterm Birth” (county dashboard 2019-2021) Accessed: 10.25.2023

Fresno County Department of Public Health: “MCAH 2021 Infant Mortality” Accessed: 10.25.2023

Source for 2:

Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Osterman MJK. Births in the United States, 2021. NCHS Data Brief, no 442. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2022. Accessed: 10.25.2023

Source for 4:

Centering Black Mothers in California: Insights into Racism, Health, and Well-being for Black Women and Infants. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division; 2023. Accessed: 10.25.2023

Source for 5: Sobczak A, Taylor L, Solomon S, et al. The Effect of Doulas on Maternal and Birth Outcomes: A Scoping Review. Cureus. 2023;15(5):e39451. Published 05.24.2023. Accessed: 10.25.2023

Source for 6:

Kozhimannil, Katy B., Laura B. Attanasio, Rachel R. Hardeman, and Michelle O’Brien. 2013. “Doula Care Supports Near-Universal Breastfeeding Initiation among Diverse, Low-Income Women.” Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health 58 (4): 378–82. 09 Published: 08 2013 Accessed: 10.25.2023

Nommsen-Rivers, Laurie A., Ann M. Mastergeorge, Robin L. Hansen, Arlene S. Cullum, and Kathryn G. Dewey. 2009. “Doula Care, Early Breastfeeding Outcomes, and Breastfeeding Status at 6 Weeks Postpartum among Low-Income Primiparae.” Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing 38 (2): 157–73. Accessed: 10.25.2023

Mottl-Santiago, Julie, Catherine Walker, Jean Ewan, Olivera Vragovic, Suzanne Winder, and Phillip Stubblefield. 2007. “A Hospital-Based Doula Program and Childbirth Outcomes in an Urban, Multicultural Setting.” Maternal and Child Health Journal 12 (3): 372–77. Published: 07.03. 2007. Accessed: 10.25.2023

Source for 7:

CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Four in 5 Pregnancy-Related Deaths in the U.S. Are Preventable.” Published September 19, 2022. Accessed: 10.25.2023

California Coalition for Black Birth Justice: The California Black Birth Justice Agenda: Unifying the Vision for Systemic Change 2023 Accessed: 10.25.2023

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