Under the Healthy Growth and Development standard, the OPHS directs boards of health to consider a range of topics based on an assessment of local need, with the goal of achieving optimal newborn, child, youth, parental, and family health.
Local priorities include maternal and child mental health, preconception health, preparation for parenting, healthy pregnancies, growth and development, and breastfeeding. A strong focus has been placed on priority populations that are at an increased risk of negative health outcomes; including mothers under the age of 24, parents and children of low socioeconomic status, parents with mental health concerns, children affected by adverse childhood experiences, and newcomers.
Local public health interventions to address these priorities involve a comprehensive health promotion model that includes: public education and awareness, policy and supportive environments, and direct services. Some examples of data related to the local priorities include:
- In 2018, 7.0% of pregnant women in Windsor and Essex County reported smoking during pregnancy.
- In 2018, folic acid consumption prior to, and during pregnancy, was significantly lower in WEC (7.0%) compared to the 2016 provincial average (31.3%), even though folic acid is strongly recommended for optimum fetal development.
- In 2017, the proportion of Windsor and Essex County mothers who reported an intention to breastfeed (exclusively or in combination with a breast-milk substitute) was significantly lower (89.6%) than mothers in Ontario (94.0%). At 6-months postpartum, only 60.1% of mothers reported that they were breastfeeding, and only 15.5% reported that they were exclusively breastfeeding.
- In 2017, a significantly higher proportion of WEC mothers of infants were single parents (6.2%) compared to Ontario (4.7%). Additionally, 6.6% of parents or parenting partners in Windsor and Essex County were involved with child protection services, a significantly higher proportion compared to Ontario (3.9%).