JGB:  It seems as if Dr. Lisa Bodnar’s work also falls into the category of issues that haven’t been well investigated yet. What do you think of her work suggesting that vitamin D may be contributing to the disparities in infant mortality we see here in Pittsburgh?
EB:  Well, I do know that it’s cold and gray here in the winter months and that we don’t see the sun much! I didn’t know about the potential connection between vitamin D deficiency and poor pregnancy outcomes. While I understand that she is still conducting necessary research, it’s possible that a vitamin D supplement could help. I look forward to learning more as her research continues.
JGB:  Let’s go back to what you were saying about making progress in our efforts to reduce infant mortality and, specifically, the disparities that exist. How does that progress happen?
EB: I think progress can occur through creative, collaborative approaches. I was really encouraged to read about the Inter-Conception Care (ICC) project, involving the Allegheny County Health Department Child Death Review Team and UPMC Family Health Centers. The ICC model makes sense. We need to work to make sure that all mothers, children and families are healthy in their homes and neighborhoods. Then they can care for themselves and their children and will be ready and healthy for future pregnancies. This approach should extend beyond the clinic. In the end, I believe we’ll be able to successfully improve birth outcomes in Allegheny County if we remember to think about moms as women who need help facing challenges. Also, we must engage with health care providers and policy makers to make positive changes.  
JGB:  I absolutely agree. We can do it. What makes Allegheny County different is that it’s a smaller area than other urban areas. The dynamic is different, and I think we can do some things here because of our size that you can’t do in larger cities. I look forward to our continued collaboration.
EB: I want to encourage others to learn more, ask questions and get involved in research. People can call the Community PARTners Core for more information about participating in research at 412-624-8139. They can also call the contacts listed in this month’s segment to learn how to participate in the highlighted studies.

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