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Center for Health Literacy Promotion Blog

Top 4 Reasons to Promote Maternal Health Literacy

1. Health Literacy is a key determinant of health. 

•Limited health literacy, measured as ability to read medical terms and documents, is linked to riskier health choices, less participation in preventive activities, more accidents, poor adherence to medication, more hospitalization, increased morbidity and premature death.

• Studies using more comprehensive measures demonstrate that health literacy has a specific direct and independent effect on self-assessed health.

• Limited health literacy in mothers is linked to increased risk of  developmental delays and reduced participation in Early Intervention when delays occur.

2.  Health literacy means empowerment: the capacity to make choices and transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes.(World Bank)

• Mothers cannot achieve their fullest health potential and nurture a healthy competent child unless they are able to take control of those things which determine their health.  (Ottowa Charter for Health Promotion)

3. Efforts are highly leveraged in pregnancy and early parenting

• Pregnant women exhibit readiness to learn and change well above national norms. They are becoming healthcare decision-makers for themselves and their families. Developing their health literacy in pregnancy can benefit entire families across their lifetime with short and long term benefits extending to the healthcare system, the justice and to the schools; to the public health and the economy.

4. Mothers’ health literacy is an important factor in prevention of noncommunicable diseases that are now the leading causes of death in the US and globally.

• Both limited health literacy and noncommunicable disease disproportionately affect poor, under-educated, and minority populations.

• Limited health literacy reinforces inequities. 

• Promoting maternal health literacy and empowering mothers are recognized global health strategies for reducing the burden of noncommunicable disease with origins in early development, and associated disparities.   (WHO, United Nations)
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