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Section: Seal; sealed

Statute: 30:4D-2.1

The Legislature finds and declares that: a. Low-income pregnant women are at higher risk of poor birth outcomes by virtue of their poverty status and non-whites in New Jersey are more likely to be indigent than whites; in 1983, more than 1,100 babies in New Jersey died before their first birthday; the State's infant mortality rate, 11.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, is among the 17 highest in the country and non-white infants in New Jersey are nearly twice as likely to die before their first birthday than white infants; the non-white and white infant mortality rates in 1983 were 19.3 and 9.2, respectively, and in 1984 the rates for black and white infants were 19.7 and 9.0, respectively; there has been no significant improvement in the infant mortality rate among older infants, ages one month to one year, during the last decade; the percentage of babies born at low birthweight, a condition which places babies at high risk of permanent disability and death, is higher in New Jersey than the national average and is among the highest third of all states; and while early continuous and comprehensive prenatal care can prevent low birthweight and infant death, only 64% of babies born to non-white mothers benefited from any early prenatal care in the State in 1983. b. Teenage mothers are at special risk of poor pregnancy outcome in New Jersey, in 1983, 11% of all babies born to teenage mothers had low birthweights, compared to 7.2% of all births; New Jersey's low birthweight rate among teenagers is the fourth highest in the nation, and only 52% of babies born to teenagers in 1983 benefited from any early prenatal care. c. Access to existing maternal and child health services is often limited and some basic services that are necessary to reduce poor birth outcomes are not universally available to all pregnant women with incomes below the federal poverty level; and there is a need to provide more effective coordination between maternal and child health services offered through programs administered by the Departments of Human Services and Health. d. The State of New Jersey is committed to ensuring access to quality health care for pregnant women and children as a means of improving the health of State residents and reducing overall State expenditures; and the basic health service needs of low-income pregnant women and children can best be met by a coordinated program of comprehensive health care. e. It is the State's objective to provide early comprehensive maternity care for pregnant women and comprehensive health care for infants and young children to reduce infant deaths and morbidity, to improve child health status, and to realize a substantial reduction in costly hospitalization. L. 1987, c. 115, s. 1.

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