September/October 2012



September/October 2012

Download a PDF of this issue.


Infant Mortality, Prematurity and Preconception Health

By Stephanie Birch, RNC, MPH, MS, FNP

Attention to reducing the rates of Infant Mortality has gained some ground over the last couple of years thanks to the focused attention of AMCHP, the Association for State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the March of Dimes all working together to support state and local maternal and child health (MCH) programs in this work. This key indicator enables state MCH programs to utilize and highlight the capacity, knowledge and resources that they have and the work they do in partnership with other state and local agencies and health care providers on this complex and multifaceted issue. [more]


Going for Gold

By Mike R. Fraser, PhD CAE

I loved watching the Summer Olympics this year. "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" were definitely present and it was great fun to see so many records broken and medals won. Country against country, athlete against athlete, the whole spectacle of the Olympics was very cool. Throughout my viewing, however, was a twinge in the back of my mind: something just didn’t feel right. When I finally focused on what was bothering me I realized that I was making comparisons to health status between countries and there was a contradiction between how great our athletes were doing in their events in London and how poor our population health was back at home. [more]


The Biggest Public Health Success Story In 15 Years?

Infant Mortality Rate Reaches "Historically Record Low" but Receives Little Fanfare

Earlier this summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published data showing that the U.S. infant mortality rate reached a record-low level of 6.14 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010. Other key findings from "Death in the United States, 2010" show that the infant mortality rate decreased 33.4 percent from 1990 to 2010 and the "decrease in infant mortality from 2009 to 2010 -- both in terms of the actual number of infant deaths (1,864 fewer deaths) and in the rate (3.9 percent lower) -- represents the largest single-year drop since 1995." This is great news for MCH, and a public health success story deserving national recognition and celebration! [more]


SACIM Developing National Strategy to Reduce Infant Mortality

By Kay Johnson
Chair, Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality Research Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality (SACIM) was formed in 1991 to advise the HHS Secretary regarding programs directed at reducing infant mortality and improving the health status of pregnant women and infants. The committee represents a public and private partnership designed to provide guidance to HHS and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The SACIM work also is intended to focus attention on the policies and resources required to reduce infant mortality. [more]


COIN Working to Ensure Health Equity

By Reem M. Ghandour, DrPH, MPA
Office of Epidemiology and Research, Maternal and Child Health Bureau

HRSA has begun to intensify efforts to prevent premature births and improve birth outcomes. For example, MCHB has launched a Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (COIN) to reduce infant mortality in the 13 southern states of Regions IV and VI. As described by Dr. Michael Lu, associate administrator for maternal and child health at HRSA: "States and their partners are leading the way in efforts to reduce infant mortality. The COIN provides a platform for collaborative improvement and innovation across state lines." [more]


Best Babies Zone Strives for All Babies to Be Born Healthy

By Erin Bonzon
Associate Director, Women’s and Infant Health, AMCHP

The Best Babies Zone (BBZ) Initiative is an innovative, multi-sector approach to reducing infant mortality and racial disparities in birth outcomes and improving birth and health outcomes by mobilizing communities to address the social determinants that affect health. The BBZ vision is that all babies are born healthy, in communities that enable them to thrive and reach their full potential. The uniqueness of this national initiative lies in the fact that not only is the approach zonal, but it is comprehensive -- addressing four critical sectors -- economics, education, health and community -- in order to strengthen environments that support better and healthier outcomes. [more]


Building a Comprehensive Initiative to Improve Birth Outcomes and Reduce Infant Mortality: The AMCHP Compendium 

By Tegan Callahan, MPH
Program Manager, Women’s and Infant Health, AMCHP

Since the passage of Title V of the Social Security Act, state and territorial maternal and child health programs have been striving to address the causes of poor birth outcomes throughout the United States. Recently, national initiatives have encouraged state and community partners to enhance or develop comprehensive approaches for improving birth outcomes, including setting target goals and introducing new regional initiatives. Currently, AMCHP members are partners in several regional and national initiatives, such as the HRSA Infant Mortality Collaborative, the ASTHO Healthy Babies Project, and the March of Dimes Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait. [more]


W.K. Kellogg Foundation Partners to Improve Birth Outcomes 

By Piia Hanson, MPH
Program Manager, Women’s and Infant Health, AMCHP

Implementing programs to improve preconception health is a key area of focus for state MCH programs. Now more than ever, states are working creatively to forge new partnerships that will generate innovative ideas to develop and implement these programs. Much of this work is made possible through public-private partnerships (PPP). As this issue highlights various initiatives that support efforts to improve birth outcomes, this is a prime opportunity to also highlight that PPP can play a key role in helping states to move their work forward. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has a long-standing tradition of building successful PPP in public health and has supported numerous MCH programs. [more]


How Healthy Start and Title V Work Together

By Piia Hanson, MPH
Program Manager, Women’s and Infant Health, AMCHP

Projects supported by the Title V MCH Block Grant include a wide range of MCH programs that meet national, state and territorial needs. Many of these programs attribute their success to strong partnerships with local, state and national organizations that also work to ensure the health of our nation’s mothers and children. One such MCH champion is the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA) that has a mission to ‘be our nation’s voice in providing leadership and advocacy for health equity, services and interventions that improve birth outcomes and family well-being.’ The South Phoenix Healthy Start and its Title V partner are an exemplary model for how Title V and Healthy Start work together. [more]

Look for these Upcoming Resources

The Preconception Health and Health Care Resource Center is a comprehensive Web directory of tools and resources designed to advance the health of men and women of reproductive age.

The Show Your Love is a campaign developed by the CDC National Preconception Health Consumer Workgroup. The campaign is expected to launch Valentine's Week, February 2013 and is designed to improve the health of women and babies by promoting preconception health (PCH) and health care.

The State Infant Mortality (SIM) Toolkit is the culmination of a vision to develop an organized, structured guide for analyzing infant mortality data in an urban, local, tribal or state setting by a team of diverse staff to determine the underlying factors associated with infant deaths. [more]



One Mother’s Story of Perseverance and Love

By Amy Marchand Collins
RIPIN Family Resource Specialist, Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic, Transition Home Plus Program

I remember the moment I knew my life had changed forever. As I walked toward the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) entrance to let in my parents and sister for our family meeting, I felt the track of my life change. Like a train smoothly shifts to a new track at the throwing of a switch, the news I had just learned, that BOTH my children had permanent hearing loss, had irrevocably changed the course and direction of my life. I didn’t know where I was now headed, but I knew for certain it was very different from where I had thought I was going just a moment earlier. [more]


DC Developing Families Center: A Treasure to the Community

By Tegan Callahan
Program Manager, Women’s and Infant Health, AMCHP

Carolyn McCoy
Senior Policy Manager, Government Affairs, AMCHP

The death of an infant is one of the most devastating outcomes for not only a family but also society itself. There are numerous risk factors that have been linked to infant mortality, many of which are related to the level of support, dignity and continuity of care a woman receives not only during her pregnancy but during the critical years leading up to it. The Developing Families Center (DFC) in Washington, DC is unique and on a mission to provide that critical support for low-income African-American families in Washington, DC. [more]



Shop on Amazon and support AMCHP!

By clicking here and shopping, Amazon will
contribute to AMCHP!



AMCHP ALCs Focus on Birth Outcomes

By Piia Hanson
Program Manager, Women's and Infant Health

With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, AMCHP is working on multiple projects that provide capacity-building technical assistance to state MCH programs to ultimately improve birth outcomes. This includes the Optimizing Health Care Reform to Improve Birth Outcomes project and the Partnership to Eliminate Disparities in Infant Mortality project. As we are routinely seeking opportunities to share lessons learned from our member action learning collaboratives (ALCs) in an effort to help your work, we asked our project participants to share their success stories and offer valuable advice. [more]

Success Stories: Reducing Infant Mortality in Teen Pregnancies

The United States has made great strides in reducing teen pregnancy in the last number of years; however, the infant mortality rate for babies born to teen mothers is still shockingly high. Statistics tell us that this is due to babies being born prematurely and at low birth weight. But, the issue is complex; factors such as smoking, lack of adequate prenatal care, substance abuse, domestic violence and poor physical health among others contribute to poor birth outcomes. [more]

Developing Recommendations on Preconception Health for Young Adults with Disabilities: Oregon Experience with an AMCHP ALC

By Lesa A. Dixon-Gray, MSW, MPH
Women’s Health Program Coordinator, Maternal and Child Health Section, Center for Prevention and Health Promotion, Oregon Health Authority

Current preconception health recommendations have not addressed the unique needs of young adults with disabilities. While young adults with disabilities are just as likely to be sexually active and less likely to use condoms, this group is often treated as if they were not sexual beings or would not become pregnant. Approximately one in five women in the United States has a disability (an estimated 16.8 to 28.6 million) and an increasing number of women with disabilities are becoming pregnant and report facing negative attitudes toward their pregnancies and difficulty receiving comprehensive prenatal care. [more]


Member states that have participated in the MCHB Region IV and VI Infant Mortality Summit and COIN were asked:

What early achievements or successes have you seen? What lessons learned can you share with other states?

Bradley Planey, M.S., M.A.
Associate Branch Chief, Family Health Branch, Arkansas Department of Health

For several years, the Arkansas Department of Health has recognized the importance of reducing the state infant mortality rate (IMR) and it is one of our strategic goals. In 2009, 290 babies died in Arkansas before their first birthday, (an IMR of 7.3 deaths per 1000 live births), placing Arkansas in the top 10 for the highest IMR. The burden of infant death was not shared equally among Arkansas residents. Higher rates occurred in counties with rural, poor and minority populations, especially in the Mississippi Delta. [more]

Kris-Tena Albers, CNM, MN
Director, Infant, Maternal and Reproductive Health Unit, Florida Department of Health

Florida engaging with the MCHB Region IV and VI Infant Mortality Summit and Collaborative provides the state an opportunity to have ongoing communication with the multidisciplinary state team to work on the reduction of infant mortality and preterm births. [more]

Michael Warren, MD MPH FAAP
Director, Division of Family Health and Wellness, Tennessee Department of Health

On Sept. 20, the Tennessee Department of Health hosted a statewide infant mortality summit, "Tennesseans Teaming Up for Change." Forty two local community teams (made up of more than 200 individuals) attended the event. Welcoming remarks were provided by the Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam and Commissioner of Health, Dr. John Dreyzehner. [more]

Sam B. Cooper III, LMSW-IPR
Director, Office of Title V & Family Health, Family & Community Health Services Division, Texas Department of State Health Services

The earliest successes have been seen primarily in strengthened partnerships with stakeholders in our state systems and with local coalitions in Texas. We have improved communication among partners on critical areas that impact the health outcomes of pregnant women and infants. [more]


How Will the Supreme Court Ruling on the ACA Impact MCH?

By Brent Ewig, MHS
Director, Public Policy& Government Affairs, AMCHP

Now that the dust has settled around the long-awaited Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we have a little more insight and analysis on what the ruling means for MCH. For kids, it is clear that their eligibility was not changed by the ruling. But for women -- particularly very poor women -- the impact appears to be potentially far reaching. [more]


Dr. Ruth Ann Shepard,division director for maternal and child health with the Kentucky Department for Public Health, was awarded this year’s ASTHO Presidential Meritorious Service Award. [more]


New MCH Leaders

See a list of new MCH partners. [more]


Registration for the AMCHP 2013 Annual Conference Is Now Open!
The AMCHP 2013 Annual Conference will be held Feb. 9-12, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. To register, visit Don’t miss our early-bird registration rates -- register now! Full conference registration includes all conference events, including the AMCHP Annual Conference Training Institute -- Saturday, Feb. 9 and Sunday, Feb. 10 (until noon) -- a rich schedule of skills-building sessions and other training opportunities. [more]

AMCHP is now accepting applications for the Ryan Colburn Scholarship. The deadline is 5 p.m. EST, Friday, Oct. 19. AMCHP will award a scholarship to one youth leader to attend the AMCHP Annual Conference 2013. The scholarship is valued at $1800 to cover airfare, lodging and per diem. For more information on how a youth leader in your state should apply for this scholarship, or for more information about the annual conference, please visit the AMCHP website at [more]

2012 NASHP State Health Policy Conference
The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) 25th Annual State Health Policy Conference will be held Oct. 15-17 in Baltimore, MD. A preconference on Improving Population Health Outcomes: Creating a Truly Comprehensive Health System will be held on Monday, Oct. 15. [more]

Applications Now Open for the 2012 MCH Epi Pre-Conference Trainings!
This year, AMCHP will offer four training options for those wishing to build their skills in the areas of spatial analysis, quality improvement, scientific writing and leadership. A detailed description of each, including learning objectives and MCH leadership competencies addressed, is available through the AMCHP website. [more]

NNPHI Forum for Quality Improvement in Public Health
The National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) will hold the next Open Forum Meeting for Quality Improvement in Public Health. at the Charlotte Marriott City Center in Charlotte, NC on Dec. 6-7. The registration deadline is Monday, Nov. 12. [more]


Find data on the current Title V program capacity to use core state preconception health indicators here.


View and download resources about infant mortality, prematurity and preconception health here.


Meet the AMCHP Board of Directors.


Meet the AMCHP staff.