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HealthPartners Children’s Health Initiative strengthens communities by addressing health, well-being early in life


December 11, 2019

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – HealthPartners reported key progress in improving the health and well-being of children and their families in its 2019 Children’s Health Initiative Report, including expanded support for early brain development and increased postpartum depression screening rates.

The report highlights significant results in each area of focus under the Children’s Health Initiative:

Early brain development

  • 80 percent of a child’s brain develops during the first three years of life, with 700 new neural connections created every second. The simple acts of playing, talking, reading and singing significantly help a child’s brain develop.
  • HealthPartners, in partnership with 200 other organizations, developed a community movement called Little Moments Count. This statewide effort helps parents, caregivers and the community understand the importance of daily interaction and provides resources to play, talk, read and sing with children early and often.
  • Through the Reach Out and Read program, more than 85,000 pediatric patients received a book in HealthPartners and Park Nicollet clinics as part of their well-child visit. In 2018, more than 250,000 books – available in 10 different languages – were distributed.

Healthy Beginnings

  • Over the last five years in Minnesota, the number of babies born to mothers using drugs, alcohol or tobacco has doubled.
  • Since 2016, more than 3,300 women have been referred to the Healthy Beginnings program, an increase of 24 percent. The program helps women who are experiencing substance use disorder, mental illnesses, homelessness, poverty or domestic violence have a healthy pregnancy and birth. The program supports approximately 11,000 patients a year.

Postpartum depression

  • The CDC estimates that 1 in 5 women suffer from a perinatal mental health disorder, including postpartum depression.
  • In 2018, HealthPartners and Park Nicollet clinics administered nearly 25,000 postpartum depression screenings, reaching out to 120 moms a month for additional mental health support.


  • For every 1,000 babies not breastfed, there are an extra 2,033 physician visits, 212 days in the hospital and 609 prescriptions in the first year of life.
  • Over the past five years, HealthPartners has made changes to best support employees, patients and the community in their choice to breastfeed, including breastfeeding champions at every primary care and OB-GYN clinic, free Mom & Baby Café support groups and milk donation “depots.”

Adolescent health

  • As teens mature and grow, it is important they feel comfortable discussing their health concerns with their clinician.
  • Nearly 400 HealthPartners and Park Nicollet clinicians took training in 2018 on how to facilitate better discussions with teens, and 77 percent reported feeling better equipped to talk to adolescents about sexual health, pregnancy prevention and other well-being topics.

“It’s important that every child gets a healthy start in life,” said HealthPartners President and CEO Andrea Walsh. “Our Children’s Health Initiative creates focus on actions we can take to improve health outcomes for the children we serve. It’s exciting to see the progress.”

The Children’s Health Initiative is a long-term initiative to improve the health and well-being of children by focusing on promoting early brain development, providing family-centered care and strengthening our communities.

About HealthPartners

HealthPartners is a consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. For more information, visit

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