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home : community : community news August 18, 2017

6/17/2017 7:26:00 AM
Low birth weight numbers improving in Oneida County

A new report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services shows the percentage of babies born at a low birth weight has steadily decreased in Oneida County since 2007. The most recent data show the percent of low birth weight babies in Oneida County is 6.1 percent, according to a health department press release. Low birth weight, being born with a weight under 2,500 grams, can occur because of slow fetal growth over a full-term pregnancy, being born preterm, or both. In Wisconsin as a whole, the percentage of low birth weight babies is 7.3 percent.

The County Environmental Health Profiles, available at, are issued every two years from the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. The profiles are a snapshot of data offered on their publicly available data portal, which includes measures on topics such as asthma, childhood lead poisoning, and Lyme disease.

"We recognized low birth weight as an issue in our county several years ago. Through strong community partnerships, referral processes, and internal programs such as Prenatal Care Coordination, WIC, and postpartum follow up we are working to address it," said Dawn Klink, Oneida County Health Department, Public Health Nurse and Prenatal Care Coordinator. "In addition to program evaluation processes, the Oneida County Environmental Health Profile helps us track progress towards our goals."

Environmental factors such as air pollution and exposure to contaminated drinking water can increase the likelihood of low birth weight and preterm births. Low birth weight has also been linked to exposure during pregnancy to lead, solvents, pesticides, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (a group of over 100 contaminants produced by burning fuels like coal). Through WIC and other programs, the Oneida County Health Department is able to assist pregnant women and families with small children to test their water for certain contaminants. Education and referrals are also made to ensure safe environments, free of harmful toxins.

Additionally, WIC, a supplemental nutrition program, is able to help assist income eligible pregnant women in accessing safe, healthy foods that encourage positive birth outcomes and health for both mom and baby.

"We've made great strides to reduce the number of low birth weight babies in Oneida County, but we still have work to do. We want to drop our percentage even further, which is why we're continuing to meet with partners and educate the community about the importance of healthy birth outcomes," said Klink.

The health department encourages pregnant women or households with small children to test their water on a regular basis. Additionally, for more information about WIC and other maternal child health services offered through the Oneida County Health Department residents should call 715-369-6111 or visit

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