By Tyler Renaud 
BELLEVILLE – The Hastings Prince Edward County Public Health board received a report evaluating the success of its ‘Healthy Babies, Healthy Children’ program at its meeting Wednesday.
The evaluation found that the program provides a high screening rate for area babies both before and after birth.
Richard Schabas, the Medical Officer of Health for the newly named board, said there are higher risks for parents in the Quinte area.
“The risk factors we have for mothers and newborns in the area are higher than the typical rates in the province. As they are for most health issues primarily because of the low income, low levels of education, high levels of unemployment and those sorts of things that are unfortunately all to common in the rural areas of Canada,” said Schabas.
For instance, one of the factors affecting child development in the region is smoking during pregnancy. According to a press release from the Hastings Prince Edward County Public Health board, 25% of expectant mothers in the area also smoke. The provincial average is 10%.
The program is a free and voluntary program offering in-home support for children and their families until they go to school.
Along with support for parents, the program also tracks the child’s development and links the family to community supports if there are issues.