TYLER, Texas (KETK) – People have probably heard the saying it takes a village to raise a child. One local coalition believes it takes a city. According to Health and Human Services, in 2017 on average, more than seven babies for every 1,000 born in Smith County did not survive.

There is also a high percentage of women who die due to giving birth or they have pre-term babies, said Justice Robinson, Healthy Me, Healthy Babies Coalition Program Specialist. This group’s mission is to improve the birthrate and health of mothers and their children in East Texas.

“We usually lose a lot of moms 42 days after birth. We are wanting to prevent that. We want to decrease that. As a coalition, we come together and work looking at what’s happening and who’s being affected. You’ll see it’s three to four times more likely for African American women to die than any other race in our community,” said Robinson.

Healthy Me, Healthy Babies and a coalition of East Texas doctors, nurses and state employees visited CHRISTUS Mother Frances to tour the new NICU and pediatric areas.

“We want all moms to experience a happy and healthy pregnancy and make it past that first year of their child’s life. We have families that lose their mothers and families that lose their babies. 60 percent of this, you’ll see from documented research is preventable,” said Robinson.

According to Healthy Me, Healthy Babies, about 490,000 women in Texas have little to no access to sufficient maternity care.

“A lot of education can be done to make parents and moms aware of when they are going into labor, what are the symptoms of that, making sure that they are taking care of their blood pressure and taking their medication,” said CHRISTUS Neonatologist Dr. Brenda Morris.

With limited doctors taking certain insurance and limited pediatricians available, this coalition works to provide resources locally for those families. If you are an expecting mother or parent seeking resources for a new addition to your family, you can find more information here.