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Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
November 18, 2008

Heather Howard

For Further Information Contact:
Dawn Thomas
(609) 984-7160

Commissioner Howard Visits Asbury Park Community Health Center


Asbury Park - Today Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard, continuing her “A Healthy You = A Healthy Baby” campaign, stressed the importance of preconception and prenatal care to Asbury Park Community Health Center’s patients.


“A healthy woman equals a healthy baby,” said Commissioner Howard.  “Every woman should be taking steps to improve her health by eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly and getting checkups. Taking these positive lifestyle steps before and early in pregnancy can prevent future problems and ensure healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.’’


Today’s visit to the Visiting Nurses Association of Central Jersey’s Asbury Park Community Health Center is part of Commissioner Howard’s ongoing campaign to raise awareness of the importance of preconception and prenatal health. Since the campaign kicked off in October, Commissioner Howard has been visiting health centers, Women, Infant and Children clinics, and college campuses emphasizing the need for women to maintain a healthy lifestyle before, during and in between pregnancies.


"This Community Health Center was established to connect a medically-underserved population with the primary and preventative health care services they need.   Delivering comprehensive prenatal care is a key part of that mission, from the initial assessment and treatment to nutrition education, community referrals and newborn care,” said Gary Linington, executive director of the Community Health Center.  “We thank Commissioner Howard for visiting our prenatal program and commend her for her campaign to increase awareness of the importance of these services." 


The kickoff of this educational campaign follows the September release of the Prenatal Care Task Force report, which recommended raising awareness of preconception care and family planning services among women before they get pregnant, to ensure women enter pregnancy in optimal health. For more information on the Prenatal Care Task Force report please visit  Also on the web site is a recent interview with Comcast Newsmakers featuring Commissioner Howard talking about the prenatal and preconception health campaign, please visit to view this video.


Early prenatal care is an essential component of a healthy pregnancy. It offers the best opportunity for risk assessment, health education, and the management of pregnancy-related complications and conditions.  With nearly one third of all pregnancies in New Jersey unintended, mistimed or unwanted, preconception care is essential for women of childbearing age. Preconception care—before a woman becomes pregnant—provides health promotion, screening and interventions to reduce risk factors that affect pregnancies.


As part of this educational campaign, DHSS will distribute posters, in English and Spanish, highlighting basic recommendations for preconception and prenatal health, such as eating food with folic acid, getting regular checkups and exercising regularly.  The posters will be placed in physician offices, WIC clinics and other areas that women frequent such as hair and nail salons and ladies restrooms. The poster can also be downloaded from the Department web site at


Building on the work of the Prenatal Care Task Force, Commissioner Howard recently was named co-chair of a statewide quality collaborative being led by the New Jersey Hospital Association to improve perinatal care for the state’s mothers and newborns. The Perinatal Learning Cooperative will bring together hospital leaders, physicians, nurses, midwives and other to meet regularly to discuss the problems and challenges in perinatal care.



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