FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- New research is underway that could lead to better outcomes for expectant mothers and their newborns in Fresno County.
According to the California Preterm Birth Initiative, Fresno County has a preterm birth rate of 9.2 percent, that's higher than the state rate of 8.5 percent. A new study in Fresno County aims to get answers about why Hispanic/Latina moms have higher rates of preterm birth
than others. The UCSF San Francisco Preterm Birth Initiative and Central Valley Health Policy Institute at Fresno State are collaborating to find the answer to these questions: what stressors contribute most to baby outcomes like preterm birth and what protects
moms and babies during stressful times?
UCSF and CVHPI created the "Saving Our Ladies from Early Births and Reducing Stress (SOLARS) study among Hispanic/Latina pregnant women. The study follows them throughout their pregnancy and birth of a baby by surveying them four times starting at
weeks 12 of pregnancy and once six weeks after the baby is born. SOLARS is now looking for Hispanic/Latina mothers to participate, call (559) 228-2162 or email email@example.com website here.
Sonia Mendoza and Erica Martinez from SOLARS were recent guests on Latino Life and shared details with host Vanessa Vasconcelos.
Vanessa: So, I want to talk a little bit about the research that you're doing. That research is with a group known as SOLARS. So, what is SOLARS, and what's the mission behind this?
>> Right. So, SOLARS -- it's saving our ladies and reducing stress in early preterm birth. And what we're trying to aim at is understand what are the contributing factors that cause
women to go under stress and what are some of the coping mechanisms and the resiliency that they have with it. So, with that, we're trying to understand, in essence, with
UCSF and Central Valley Health Policy Institute -- we're trying to address what contributes to stress and what are the outcomes that lead to healthy babies?
So, we're trying to decipher between the two since we don't know what is primarily the cause of preterm birth.
Vanessa: So, why is it important to recruit 100 Latinas that live and work in Fresno County?
>> So, we're trying to understand -- With this, with a larger sample, we're trying to understand, again, what are some of the stresses, what are -- with our questions that we have
in our surveys that Erica's gonna be discussing with, what are stress coping mechanisms, socioeconomic factors, and what are the positive social supports that mothers have that protects
them from stress? And what are some of the resiliencies that they have with that?
Vanessa: And before we get into the interaction with these mothers, what are some of the factors leading to premature births?
>> So, some of the things -- like I said, the causes -- are unknown, but from what we can understand, it's the lack of resources that the mothers are having and, you know, knowing
that they're pregnant, and what are the financial stresses that are involved, you know, and what if they have lack of access to healthcare?
And so with this, with the partnerships that we have and the other local organizations that we work with here in Fresno County, they will be able to have some of the resources
that, you know, let's say, you know, a mother has in terms of getting the social support that they need and the resources to have an adequate full-term birth.
Vanessa: And, Erica, why should Latino moms get involved?
>> It's important. I think our biggest groups here with preterm births is actually Latina and African-American moms. So, they are the biggest groups that are having premie babies.
And a lot of times, we think,"Oh, babies born early, and as long as they're out of the NICU, they're healthy, they're okay." But that's not the case a lot of times, you know?
They could have problems all through their lives, even their adulthood, you know? So, it's important to get involved, get informed. And then also it allows us to see, what is it that maybe
they're having issues with and what resources they may benefit from?
Vanessa: And tell us about the study and that interaction.
>> So, we are out there looking for moms that live in Fresno County. We have actually been going to a lot of parks and a lot of community events, just inviting them to participate.
A lot of the moms sometimes are skeptical because they don't know, you know, if we are a true organization and if we're gonna ask something from them in
return other than just these questions being answered. But we want to go to their homes. We want it to be in a comfortable space where they can trust that we just really want
information from them so that we're able to help them.
Vanessa: And what kind of questions are gonna be asked?
>> So, they are around stress and anxiety. So, there are different questions, you know, obviously your general information -- where were you born, what does your environment
look like, who lives in your home, that kind of general questions. And then in addition to that, they do go more in-depth as, you know, how do you feel about your care and how does your care look
like and how is your stress level when you're at home? Does it allow you to keep doing your normal things throughout the day, or is it something that is keeping you from interacting with your family?
Things like that.
Vanessa: Is it just these questions, or is it going to -- is there gonna be a follow-up later on?
>> So, hopefully, with this, once we complete this, it would the phase one. Hopefully, within a couple years we'd enter into phase two, where we, as well, would replicate the study and then ascertain
biological components, which would be hair samples and blood, to understand what's the bio, psycho, social components with this study. So, hopefully, that's what we'll do next with that.
Vanessa: And say people at home seeing this -- how can they get involved?
>> They could call us. We do have a phone number. We also have a website -- I'm sorry -- a Facebook page, as well as an e-mail that they can contact us.
But calling us would probably be the best and then, you know, just reaching out to us if they do see us at some of the community events, if they see a table with SOLARS Fresno State,not to be afraid.
Come on over, and we can get them started that way, as well.
>> Vanessa:Okay. And is this offered bilingual?
>> Yes, definitely.
>> Yes, I speak Spanish, as well as Yesenia, who's also another co-worker of ours. She speaks Spanish, as well.
Vanessa: Fantastic,ladies. Thank you so much.
>> Yes. Thank you for having us.
Latino Life: new research on pre term births in Fresno County