Through a comprehensive study of the last 10 years, researchers from NAU and UA found that pregnant women and mothers enrolled in Arizona’s Health Start Program (which employs community health workers to conduct home visits) have lower rates of low birthweight and preterm newborns than women who didn’t participate in Health Start.

BMJ recently published their results entitled, “ Addressing maternal and child health equity through a community health worker home visiting intervention to reduce low birth weight: retrospective quasi-experimental study of the Arizona Health Start Program.”

Most of the authors are AzPHA members: Samantha Sabo , Patrick WightmanKelly McCue , Matthew ButlerVern Pilling , Dulce J Jimenez , Martín Celaya , Sara Rumann)


For more than 25 years, the Arizona Health Start Program has offered CHW led home visiting, education, and advocacy support to improve maternal and child health outcomes among medically and socially high risk, pregnant women and mothers with children under age 2.

The Arizona Health Start Program is a public health focused intervention program developed specifically to meet the unique needs of Arizona women, children and families that can improve birthweight and preterm outcomes among ethno-racially, socioeconomically, and geographically diverse mothers and infants of Arizona. Here’s the Abstract from the study:

Objective: To test if participation in the Health Start Program, an Arizona statewide Community Health Worker (CHW) maternal and child health home visiting program, reduced rates of low birth weight (LBW), very LBW (VLBW), extremely LBW and preterm birth.

Setting: Arizona is uniquely racially and ethnically diverse with comparatively higher proportions of Latino and American Indian residents and a smaller proportion of African Americans.

Participants: 7212 Health Start Program mothers matched to non-participants based on demographic, socioeconomic and geographic characteristics, health conditions and previous birth experiences.

Intervention: A statewide CHW MCH home visiting program.

Results: Using Health Start Program’s administrative data and birth certificate data from 2006 to 2016, we identified 7,212 Health Start Program participants and 53,948 matches. Program participation is associated with decreases in adverse birth outcomes for most subgroups.

Conclusion: This MCH home visiting intervention that employs CHWs as the primary interventionist may contribute to the reduction of LBW, VLBW, ELBW and PTB and could improve birth outcomes statewide, especially among women and children at increased risk for MCH inequity.