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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.
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.
Pre 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.
- 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
Pre- 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.
- 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
Risk 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.
- 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
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.
- 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
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.
- 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)
Social 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.
- 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