Category: Research Interests

UIC Celebrates the 75th Anniversary of Title V of the Social Security Act

October marks the 75th Anniversary of Title V of the Social Security Act.  This Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant provides the strong foundation for ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our nation’s women and children.  For additional information about Title V, please visit

In conjunction with this milestone anniversary, the UIC Maternal and Child Health Program is engaging in a variety of MCH-related activities.  These activities include the following:

MCH Story Campaign
We encourage you to share a 1-3 page story about why and how you became involved in your MCH work.  What do you do in the field of MCH?  What inspires you?  How did you get involved in this field?  If you have a story to share, write it up and send it to Amanda Giese (, Chair of the MCH student planning committee, and she will post it on our blog!  Please remember, it’s your stories that will inspire the next generation of MCH professionals.  Please don’t be shy about sharing your story!!  We will be accepting stories between September 13, 2010 and December 20, 2010!

Infant Mortality and Racism Town Hall Meeting
In honor of national efforts to recognize 75 years of MCH programming and future visioning, the  UIC MCHP and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IL Title V program) will sponsor a Town Hall Meeting entitled Infant Mortality and Racism:  What is Holding Us Back and How Do We Move Forward?  This event will take place at the UIC School of Public Health, 1603 W. Taylor Street, Friday, October 29 from 8:30am-1:30pm.  Join us for a presentation of the current state of affairs in Illinois and discussion about infant mortality and racism in Illinois, an exercise about cultural sensitivity, and a candid discussion about what is holding us back and possible next steps.

75th Anniversary of Title V: UIC MCH Seminar Series
Date:  September 15, 2010
Time: 12pm-1pm
Location:  UIC School of Public Health, 1603 W. Taylor St., Chicago, Room 932
Title:  Children’s Savings Accounts – Creating Financial Stability for Illinois’ Children
Speaker:  Chris Giangreco, Senior Policy Associate, Heartland Alliance Needs & Human Rights

Date:  November 10, 2010
Time: 4:30pm-5:30pm
Location:  UIC School of Public Health, 1603 W. Taylor St., Chicago, Room 932
Title: Dancing Around the Body: Sex, Gender, and Intersexuality
Speaker:  Georgiann Davis, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago

For more information visit our website at

Pelvic Health Research in Adolescents

Hi All.  Below is an article about one of our recent MCH grads who works with the local Women’s Health Foundation.  Jenni Hebert-Beirne, PhD, MPH was awarded a Pfizer Investigator-Initiated Research (IIR) grant to conduct research related to adolescents and pelvic health.


Molly Kirk Parlier



Women’s Health Foundation Announces Receipt of Grant for Pelvic Health Research in Adolescents

Chicago Women’s Health Non-Profit to Research Knowledge, Attitudes and Behavior Regarding Bladder and Pelvic Health among Urban Adolescent Females

Chicago, IL (June 18, 2010) — Women’s Health Foundation (WHF) proudly announces that Jeni Hebert-Beirne, PhD, MPH, WHF Director of Research has been awarded a Pfizer Investigator-Initiated Research (IIR) grant expanding WHF’s recently launched Adolescent Initiative. The study’s goals are to discern baseline knowledge and perceptions on pelvic health and to improve adolescent females’ knowledge, awareness and behavior with respect to basic bladder and pelvic health through an adaptive educational curriculum.

Since 2004, WHF has created unique, community-based, wellness and educational programs for all women combining a specialized wellness program with an educational component involving bladder and pelvic anatomy, nutrition and lifestyle tips to prevent manage or alleviate bladder symptoms. Recently, WHF expanded their traditional programs and services to adolescents by launching a pilot program at a high school on Chicago’s west side testing a curriculum assessing and intervening on the attitudes, beliefs and knowledge regarding menstruation, bathroom behaviors, sexual health issues as well as pelvic health.

“Arming young girls with pelvic health education, we aim to equip teen girls with the knowledge to take care of their health. Adolescence is a time to encourage health behaviors associated with optimal long term health. Since the risk of pelvic dysfunction increases with age, adolescence is the ideal life stage to educate and shape current and future health behaviors.” said Missy Lavender, Founder, Executive Director of Women’s Health Foundation.

Through this initiative, WHF will teach basic pelvic health education – anatomy, hygiene, the basics on pelvic function and disorders to teen girls as well as behavioral guidelines to pregnant and parenting teens.

#     #     #

About Women’s Health Foundation

Founded in 2004, Women’s Health Foundation (WHF) is a nonprofit organization focused on providing life strategies, community-based programs and services, and events to encourage women to proactively manage their pelvic health and wellness.  Dedicated to eliminating the Sisterhood of Silence and creating a Sisterhood of Strength, WHF is becoming the nation’s most visible and passionate champion of women’s pelvic wellness issues.  Headquartered in Chicago, Women’s Health Foundation sponsors programs in Alaska, Massachusetts, Colorado, Arizona, Indiana, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and throughout the Chicagoland area.  To learn more, visit

Infant Mortality and Racism in Chicago: Follow-Up

In late April 2010, the UIC MCHP and the UIC Mid-America Public Health Training Center hosted a workshop session on Infant Mortality and Racism with Laurin Kasehagen, MA, PhD.  We had tremendous audience interest in engaging in a follow-up discussion to address these issues in Chicago/Illinois.  A large number of audience participants is scheduled to meet again by phone in late June.  In the meantime, if you have thoughts about how to proceed or any thoughts about infant mortality and racism, please feel free to respond to this posting.  We welcome any and all comments/thoughts/ideas as this will help stimulate our discussion in June.

If you would like to take a look at Dr. Kasehagen’s presentation, please visit the following posting:

Thanks so much and we look forward to hearing from you!

Illinois Women’s Health Registry

On Monday, May 10, Sarah Bristol-Gould, PhD, Director of Research Programs for the Institute for Women’s Health Research at Northwestern University gave a presentation on the Illinois Women’s Health Registry.  Click here to view slides from the presentation:

The Registry is a database containing answers to a confidential health survey (symptoms, conditions, diseases, family history of disease, environmental exposures, stress and demographic information).  The Registry was created to help researchers have greater access to women in the state who want to participate in research that examines sex and gender differences in health and disease.  The Registry is a great resource for women who want to improve their health by becoming more aware of their health issues and wellness and it provides a great way for women to gain access to groundbreaking research studies and clinical trials.

If you are a student or researcher who is interesting in accessing this database for research purposes please contact the Institute at

If you are an Illinois resident over the age of 18 years, you can participate in the Registry.  To enroll visit: or call 800-984-IWHR to request a paper version of the survey.

It would be great to have a large number of Illinois women included in this database so that we can increase our understanding of how disease/illness affects women vs. men.  Further, this research will help to better tailor prevention efforts for women!

To check out the Institute’s blog, visit  This blog is an education resource for information regarding women’s health.

Infant Mortality is a Civil Rights Issue

The below story is re-printed from WKNO-FM: NPR for the Mid-South.  Theresa Chapple is one of our MCH program graduates.  Theresa works for the Memphis, TN, Shelby County’s Fetal & Infant Mortality Review.

A link to the audio interview can be found here:


MEMPHIS, TN (WKNO) – Here in Shelby County babies die at a rate almost twice that national average. Figuring out why is Theresa Chapple’s job. Chapple heads up Shelby County’s new Fetal & Infant Mortality Review.

Despite the enormity and gravity of her work, Chapple is spunky. She’s short and well dressed. She often smiles displaying a gap between her front teeth.

Chapple is the first to say infant mortality doesn’t effect everyone equally. Nationwide a black woman is more than twice as likely as a white woman to lose her baby.

“We don’t know who we’re losing when we lose these babies before they turn one,” Chapple said. “We could be losing the next leader in the African-American community.”

A black woman with a Master’s degree is still more likely to lose her child than a white woman who hasn’t graduated from high school.

“So we know it’s more than education, it’s more than class,” Chapple says. “It’s something else; and it is something that has to do with race in this country.

Chapple wasn’t born caring about infant mortality. She was a senior in college in Chicago preparing to apply to law school when she attended a lecture about racial disparity in birth outcomes.

“That’s when I found out that it was a major problem in our communities. I am shocked that I made it that long in my life without realizing,” Chapple said.

The lecture was called Infant Mortality from 1900 to 2000.’ In those 100 years infant mortality has decreased for whites and blacks. But the gap between races hasn’t. And in 2000 it started getting wider.

“I remember leaving that day trying to figure out what epidemiology’ meant,” Chapple laughs. “What was this word that he kept using? And how could I do that in order to make a difference?”

Instead of a law degree, Chapple has a master’s in maternal and child health and a doctorate in child reproductive and perinatal epidemiology.

Chapple works with hospitals, funeral home directors, and the county cemetery to identify every fetal and infant death in the county. After each death she sends a nurse to grab the medical records, and a social worker to talk to the family.

That information is then passed to a Case Review Team. The team determines the circumstances that led to that baby’s death, and comes up with recommendations for what the community, as a whole, can do to make sure those circumstances are less likely to be repeated. The team doesn’t assign blame, and it never determines a death unavoidable.

“My view is that there are no accidents. We may have to look hard for it, but there it going to be someplace that we can intervene,” Chapple said.

Finally the recommendations of the Case Review Team are passed to a Community Action Team. It’s the job of the community team to make the recommendations a reality.

In Memphis the racial disparity in infant mortality is even larger than it is nationwide. Here a black woman is about three times more likely to lose her child than a white woman.

“I would like to really understand why,” Chapple said. “Why would race have that much of an impact on rather your baby lives or dies?”

One of the leading causes of infant death is premature birth and the complications that come with it. In Shelby County infants are indeed being born too small and too early more often than other places across the country. Doctors know what contributes to prematurity it’s things like stress, the age and health of the mom, and not getting any prenatal care. Smoking, drinking, or using drugs during pregnancy also plays a part. But none of that solves Chapple’s mystery.

“That doesn’t help explain what’s going on here in Shelby County that’s making us higher than the national average,” Chapple explained.

And finally there’s being black. As well as being more likely to lose a baby, a black woman is also more likely than a white woman to have a baby preterm.

Chapple says she doesn’t yet know why Memphis has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the nation, but this, she senses, is at the heart of it.

“It definitely is a justice issue, and it definitely is more than a health issue. It’s not just a medical approach that is going to fix this it’s a societal approach. I see this as our new civil rights issue.”

Find Shelby County’s Fetal & Infant Mortality Review on Facebook under ‘ShelbyCo Fimr’ and on Twitter at

© Copyright 2010, WKNO

Infant Mortality and Racism

On Friday, April 30, 2010, the UIC Maternal and Child Health Program and the UIC Mid-America Public Health Training Center collaborated to host a workshop entitled:  Infant Mortality and Racism Action Learning Collaborative:  Community Recommendations For Reducing Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality.

Our incredibly gifted speaker and expert was Laura Kasehagen, MA, PhD, CDC Senior MCH Epidemiologist, CDC/ONDIEH/NCCDPHP/DRH/ASB/MCH Epidemiology Program, Assignee to CityMatCH, University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Dr. Kasehagen discussed an integrated mixed methods approach called Concept Mapping and how the methodology was applied to better understand how participant communities may engage in activities to decrease racial disparities in infant mortality.  With participation from members of a diverse Collaborative, a series of statements was generated from the following prompt:  “One specific action a community could take to decrease racial disparities in infant mortality is….”

Dr. Kasehagen shared with us some initial findings from the research generated by Collaborative efforts as well recommendations to address the impact of racism on birth outcomes.  The Collaborative continues to analyze and interpret data from this work.

Over 50 local MCH academic and practice professionals participated in this workshop either in-person or via webcast.  An audio of the presentation and slides are available at:

NOTE: when you access the presentation/slides, it will download Saba Centra which allows you to access the audio/slides.


Participants were very excited about this workshop and are currently exploring ways to keep the high energy and passion around these topics alive in Chicago.   Exciting next steps to follow!  If you are interested in learning more about next steps (or helping to develop next steps), please let us know by contacting Jaime Klaus at

Events/News: MCHP Faculty Member Rachel Caskey Talks about the HPV Vaccine

MCHP faculty member Rachel Caskey is interviewed about her research related to adolescents’ and young women’s knowledge about the HPV vaccine.

Rachel Caskey Interview about HPV Vaccine .

Link to the story:

Events/News: MCH Program Co-Director, Arden Handler, Speaks about Infant Mortality

Arden Handler is a Co-Director of the Maternal and Child Health Program as well as a professor of Community Health Sciences here at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health. She says to get at the reasons for the racial gap in infant mortality, people need to look at how society treats women and children in general.  Listen to her talk about this issue on Chicago Public Radio (Eight Forty-Eight).

848_20071024d.mp3 (October 2007)