Infant Mortality Awareness Month - Prevention Steps

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Steps to Reduce Infant Mortality

There are many steps federal, state and local leaders, public and private agencies, professionals, and communities can take to reduce infant mortality and improve birth outcomes.

IM CoIIN has identified six strategic areas to focus on to reduce infant mortality. Read a description of the strategy areas and see change ideas for each that can help prevent and/or reduce infant mortality.

Alaska Perinatal BabyPre and Early Term Birth

Every week of pregnancy matters for the health of babies. Babies born before full term (39 weeks) may encounter health issues and developmental disabilities. This strategy area focuses on reducing early elective deliveries and increasing access to 17P to prevent pre- and early-term births.

Change Ideas

  • Expand access to group prenatal care, such as centering pregnancy
  • Eliminate barriers to access, administration and adherence to 17-hydroxyprogesterone
  • Implement standardized policies and administrative supports to eliminate early elective deliveries

Mother And Infant With Pediatrician At OfficePre- and Interconception Care 

Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. Pre- and interconception health focuses on the care of women before and in-between pregnancies in order to detect, treat and help women modify behaviors, health conditions, and risk factors that contribute to poor pregnancy outcomes. This strategy area focuses on improving health during this essential time.

Change Ideas

  • Connect women with coordinated care to support access to effective contraception
  • Provide comprehensive healthcare during childbearing years with a focus on reproductive life course planning
  • Discuss pregnancy intention during postpartum hospitalization and follow up visit

Woman and Infant With WorkerRisk Appropriate Perinatal Regionalization

Neonatal mortality is associated with gestational age, very low birth weight (VLBW), and health problems immediately before or after pregnancy. This strategy area focuses on increasing the number of high-risk babies born at appropriate level hospitals to ensure the best possible outcomes for mothers and babies.

Change Ideas

  • Offer state agencies and programs serving pregnant women and families such as home visiting and WIC, training and materials on appropriate levels of care
  • Provide mothers with early risk assessment, referral and seamless access to risk appropriate care facility

Asian Baby SleepingSafe Sleep

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death among babies between 1-12 months. This strategy area focuses on actions individuals can take to help babies sleep safely and reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.

Change Ideas

  • Develop and implement culturally congruent educational materials, social/marketing messages and communication strategies on safe sleep
  • Promote safe sleep messaging and teachback throughout all state agencies and programs that interact with pregnant women and families
  • Set up a model nursery in a hospital lobby

Quit Smoking NowSmoking Cessation

Smoking during pregnancy causes several health problems, including premature birth (being born too early), birth defects and infant death. Additionally, infants exposed to smoke may be at a higher risk for poor outcomes, such as SIDS. This strategy area focuses on reducing tobacco use before, during, and after birth.

Change Ideas

  • Use motivational interviewing techniques to help moms commit to stop and stay quit
  • Provide smoking and tobacco cessation screening and referral to evidence based programs (e.g., Baby and Me Tobacco Free)

Pregnant Woman Checking Her SmartphoneSocial Determinants of Health

Health and well-being are determined by not only the choices people make throughout their life, but by the socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental factors. This strategy area strives to shift the negative impact of the social determinants of health such as policies to reduce poverty, improve access to housing, employment and healthcare services.

Change Ideas

  • Augment home visiting services with in-home screenings for depression, domestic violence, substance abuse, infant mental health
  • Pursue policies to reduce exposures of disadvantaged people to health damaging factors 
  • Promote health equity in all policies

Resources & Tools for Infant Mortality Awareness Month

IM CoIIN Infant Mortality Month Campaign Toolkit for States

NICHQ has developed a toolkit to help states leverage this national campaign and draw attention to infant mortality and the work that state partners are doing to empower women to be healthy and to prepare for healthy pregnancies that result in healthy children.

Healthy Start Infant Mortality Awareness Campaign / Toolkit

The Celebrate Day 366…Every Baby Deserves a Chance Infant Mortality Awareness Campaign supports and inspires people from around the nation to take action in support of the Healthy People 2020 goal to improve the health and well-being of women, infants, children and families. Join the National Healthy Start Association and be part of the generation that ensures that every baby has a chance. This kit External Link includes tips for advocacy, media relations, fundraising among other resources. The campaign web page External Link includes downloadable pdfs and materials to print.

The Campaign for Black Babies

The National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC) Campaign for Black Babies seeks to reduce African-American infant mortality rates (IMR) in the ten US cities with the highest Black IMR. Their goal is to move the needle on African-American infant mortality by reducing rates by 25% in the next 5 years and 50% in ten years.

NBEC's National Coalition for Black Babies mobilizes the nation's leading maternal and child health organizations and African-American civil rights institutions towards the goal of reducing Black IMR by 2025. For more on campaign programs and strategies, click here External Link.

Before and Beyond Toolkit & Resources

The BeforeandBeyond External Link website was created and is maintained by the Clinical Work Group of the National Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative, a public-private partnership working to advance preconception knowledge and care of all men and women of reproductive age in this country. To learn more about the National Initiative, tools and resources, click here External Link.

Safe to Sleep Campaign®

Led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in collaboration with other organizations, The Safe to Sleep® campaign offers a variety of materials to help share safe infant sleep messages with different audiences. Many of these items are available for download and order from the website, where there is also a list of all NICHD publications related to SIDS and Safe to Sleep®. For items that you can use to promote the Safe to Sleep® campaign or your outreach, check out their E-Toolkit. External Link.