Beta Club Members Volunteer for Butts County Health Initiative

Print This Post

Laura Boling, left, and Madison Kelly put together information packets for the Butts County Low Birthweight Prevention Initiative. They were working at the health department as their community service required by the Henderson Middle School Beta Club.

by Sherri Ellington

Henderson Middle School Beta Club members Laura Boling and Madison Kelly spent a couple of hours April 27 assembling information packets for the Butts County Life Enrichment Team Low Birthweight Prevention Initiative.

“We have to do two hours of community service a year by a certain date or we can’t take part in Beta Club activities,” Boling said, her hands not slowing down as she packed hundreds of informative brochures into folders to be given to pregnant women.

Boling is the daughter of Christi Toney, the Butts County Health Department Women Infant Children breastfeeding peer counselor. Toney is also the Butts County LBW strategy support specialist.

“Christi is a tremendous asset to the initiative and having the girls help is huge,” LET Executive Director Ann-Marie Pope said. “This is for our initiative at the local level. WIC and the health department are part of that. Krystle Whitten is our strategy team leader. She is also the county nurse manager.”

The strategy team also includes representatives of the Butts County Department of Family and Children Services, Southside Medical Center, the Butts County School System Family Enrichment Center and the Pregnancy Resource Center. The LBW Prevention Initiative is a program of the Georgia Family Connection Partnership funded by a grant from Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. The LET is a Georgia Family Connection Collaborative serving Butts County since 1990.

Low birthweight is defined as a baby’s birthweight being under 5.5 pounds. Statistics show that low birthweight babies are more likely to die in the first year of life, suffer from chronic health conditions such as asthma and high blood pressure and have compromised cognitive development. It persists into adulthood, with lower birthweight individuals scoring lower on IQ tests at age 18, attaining less education and earning less income than their peers, according to the Kids Count Data Center of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

According to Kids Count, as of 2013, one in every 10 births in Georgia was low birthweight. As of 2014, 9.6 percent of births in Georgia were low birthweight, one of the highest in the nation. Butts County was at 8.9 percent.

Factors that contribute to low birthweight include the mother smoking, drinking alcohol, abusing prescription or illegal drugs, age, race or ethnicity, closely spaced pregnancies or multiple births, not gaining enough weight during pregnancy, inadequate or no prenatal care, occupational and environmental exposures and hypertension or diabetes.

The LBW Prevention Initiative aims to help women with fertility planning to reduce unwanted pregnancies, spacing births more than 24 months apart, healthy preconception behaviors such as taking folic acid supplements, identifying pregnancies in a timely fashion, smoking cessation, reducing or ceasing use of drugs, appropriate weight gain and screening pregnant women for medical conditions such as infections or physical abnormalities.

For more information on the LET and its low birthweight initiative, email, call or text 770-557-2536 or call 770-504-2230, extension 101.

Read the story on

Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director

Follow us on Twitter: @gafcpnews