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Fat babies, happy Healthy Beginnings: Agency helping boost birth weights

Results from Healthy Beginnings’ baby birth weight study are in, and the statistician who compiled the numbers is impressed.

The percentage of low birth weight babies born to Healthy Beginnings’ clients was 5.5 percent from 1999-2001, compared to a statewide percentage of 8.5 percent.

“I was very impressed with what they were able to do,” said statistician Jerome Evans.



Evans said the numbers are more notable because many Healthy Beginnings clients are at risk for low birth weight babies due to their social or economic conditions.

“This was the best possible outcome,” Evans said from his Carbondale office. “Something is going on in the program that is making it work.”



One of those Healthy Beginnings babies is Jackson Ray Ugarte. Jackson Ray was born to Joanna Maznek last May, and weighed two pounds heavier than the 5 pounds, 8 ounces that defines low birth weight babies.

“Healthy Beginnings was wonderful,” said Maznek. “They are so nice.”

Healthy Beginnings is a nonprofit United Way agency that provides prenatal care to low-income families in Garfield County.

Maznek is a New Hampshire native and Colorado Mountain College student. Her fiance, Michael Ugarte, hails from Texas, and was the manager at the Oasis Restaurant. They moved to Glenwood Springs from Leadville in August 2001, and live in a sunny apartment near the Sunlight bridge.

“We wanted a baby, but didn’t expect it to happen as fast as it did,” Maznek said as she sat down in a rocking chair and bounced Jackson on her knee.

Jackson alternated between yawns, spontaneous squeals and chewing on his mom’s wrist. “He’s definitely mobile,” Maznek said. “You turn your back and he’s gone.”

Maznek studied photography at CMC and worked full time at Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub through her pregnancy. “I stopped working when I couldn’t bend over and get ketchup anymore,” she said, as Jackson took a slobbery liking to her index finger. He was born just after his mom’s college finals.

“It was a busy time, but I had a very healthy pregnancy,” Maznek said.

Jackson, Joanna and Michael are headed to San Antonio later this week so that his parents can see the baby. After that, they’re moving back to New Hampshire to be near her family.

“It will be hard to replace Healthy Beginnings,” she said.

Through her pregnancy, Maznek met about 12 times with her nurse case manager to monitor her own health and Jackson’s.

“Each mom has a nurse case manager that’s with them through the end,” said Healthy Beginnings director Wanda Berryman.

Berryman said low birth weight babies can be the result of premature birth, but can also occur when women are full term. Low birth weight is caused by a variety of factors, including poor diet and smoking.

“There are more health problems with low birth weight babies, and they’ll have more problems in school. Fat, healthy babies is what it’s all about,” she said.

The costs incurred from low weight babies are staggering. Berryman said a March of Dimes study showed added medical costs for a premature baby average $120,000, and over a lifetime, that baby can cost society $500,000.

“So it’s better for them to be born when they are supposed to,” Berryman said. “If we can prevent one premature baby, it more than pays for our organization.”

If Evans is happy with the numbers Healthy Beginnings racked up, Berryman is almost ecstatic.

“It proves without a doubt we make a difference in providing health care for these women.”

Berryman said by the end of the year, Healthy Beginnings will have served 380 pregnant women, up from 301 last year.


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