Parental Literacy and Infant Health: An Evidence-Based Healthy Start Intervention

Syracuse Healthy Start, a federally funded infant mortality prevention project in Onondaga County, New York, has undertaken a range of interventions to address parental low literacy as a risk factor for infant mortality. A growing number of studies advocate for health-related information that is easy to read, of a low literacy level, and culturally appropriate. Creation of an evidence-based public health intervention involves analyzing local data, reviewing published studies, assessing available materials, initiating programmatic interventions, and evaluating the outcomes. Preparing health educational materials that are clear, culturally sensitive, and at appropriate reading levels follows Paulo Freire’s lead in empowering the disadvantaged to positively affect their health and the health of their infants toward the reduction of infant mortality.