Children and pregnant women are the focus of the first day of National Public Health Week, which kicks off April 7 and runs until April 13.  

Baby feet (iStock)

The week-long recognition is aimed at empowering people to take action in improving their own health and the health of their family at home, starting at birth. It also gives public and clinical health professionals an opportunity to guide people through policy and technology changes, as well as introduce them to new health and safety options as they become available according to Ocean County Health Department spokeswoman Leslie Terjesen.

During Monday's focus, titled "Be Healthy From the Start," health officials are hoping to empower people to take preemptive steps toward longevity and fitness starting at birth.

"Longer lifetime durations of breast feeding are associated with decreased risk of maternal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease," Terjesen said. "In addition, longer durations of breast feeding are associated with decreased risk of many common childhood infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome."

Terjesen said the Ocean County Health Department is equipped with a whole support system for breast feeding women that includes the provision of breast pumps. Pregnant women are also encouraged to get prenatal care.

"Prenatal care helps keep mothers and their babies healthy," Terjesen said. "Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die to mothers who do get care."

Health officials are also focusing on childhood obesity. Terjesen said some of the contributing factors include lack of breast feeding, lack of sleep and watching too much TV.