Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Dr. Corrine Williams

Committee Member

Dr. Kathryn Cardarelli

Committee Member

Dr. Rick Crosby


Georgia ranks fourth (4th) in the nation for the highest low birth weight rate at 10%, and sixth (6th) in the nation for preterm birth rate at 11.7%, among the states. Based on statistical data Bulloch county has maintained an average low birth weight statistic of 10% for over a decade. In 2019, there were 107 preterm and 79 low weight births in Bulloch county, Georgia. These numbers confirm there is a need for more preventive resources for mothers and children within this community. To address this burden, the Bulloch County health department has decided to implement the Mothers and Babies prenatal and postpartum intervention program into three existing women’s health programs. This intervention will address the issue from a mental health perspective. Research has shown that added stress during pregnancy can attribute to an increased risk of preterm labor and low birth weight deliveries. Through the Mothers and Babies intervention individuals will be educated on the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression on mother and infant health, equipped with coping strategies to identify their stressors and ways to handle those throughout their daily lives, and finally, encouraged to increase their social network and social support by interacting with individuals within the group. Individuals will be assessed using the Hamilton Depression Scale and the Perceived Stress Scale at baseline, 3-month, 6-month, and post-delivery at 6 and 12-month intervals. Assessing attendance, sitting in on random sessions, and satisfaction questionnaires will help to ensure the fidelity of the program. Several local organizations and professionals will collaborate and partner with the health department to make this a success in the community. The short-term outcomes include increased knowledge on the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression on health, increased knowledge of coping strategies, and an increase in social support and number of close social contacts. The medium-term outcomes include an increase in self-reported use of coping strategies and decreased stress and depression during pregnancy. The long-term outcomes are decreased preterm and low birth weight deliveries. These outcomes will be shared with the partner organizations and professionals as well as other state and national organizations, including the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) and the Association for Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN).