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​Infant Mortality

Infant mortality is an international measure of how well a society ensures the health of its people, particularly its women and children. The World Health Organization defines infant mortality as the number of deat​hs occurring in the first year of life per 1,000 live births. The United States currently ranks 30th in infant mortality rates among all industrialized nations. Within the United States, disparities persist between populations. Infant mortality among African American babies is double, and in some places triple, the rate for whites. Despite decades of work to expand coverage and early access to prenatal care, the preterm birth rate in America remains high. Excess premature births and infant losses have enormous costs to our families, our health care system, our schools and our national prosperity.

AMCHP Resources for Reducing Infant Mortality

Forging a Comprehensive Initiative to Improve Birth Outcomes and Reduce Infant Mortality (AMCHP Compendium on Improving Birth Outcomes, July 2012)

This compendium presents a series of policy and programmatic options state agencies and their partners can use to accelerate progress in improving birth outcomes, reducing prematurity and infant mortality and narrowing glaring health disparities.  Click here to access the full compendium.

Toolkit for Engaging Partners in Improving Birth Outcomes Now Available

AMCHP is proud to release a suite of tools, guides, and templates to support the engagement of diverse stakeholders and partners in designing and implementing a comprehensive initiative to improve birth outcomes at the state level. This suite of tools complements the AMCHP document Forging a Comprehensive Initiative to Improve Birth Outcomes and Reduce Infant Mortality, the birth outcomes compendium, released in 2012.

The materials in the toolkit assist state MCH leaders and local partners in considering the complete story of activities taking place at the community and regional levels. With these tools, MCH leaders can collectively identify assets or strengths to maximize and accelerate progress already underway through the implementation of state infant mortality reduction plans and participation in the National Infant Mortality CoIIN. AMCHP hopes the steps supported by the toolkit will facilitate integrated systems of care for women and children and sustained programmatic supports and alignment of resources. Frameworks that serve as the foundation for this work include the Health Impact Pyramid and the principles of collective impact. The suite of tools includes step-by-step resources to assist state MCH leaders in completing the following activities:

AMCHP would like to thank the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the March of Dimes Greater Kansas Chapter (MOD) for their participation in efforts leading to this toolkit. AMCHP partnered with KDHE and MOD to pilot an initiative aimed at improving the health of Kansas mothers and infants, beginning with the Southeast public health region of Kansas, which experiences the worst rates of preterm birth and smoking during pregnancy. This effort focused on forging partnerships to address issues families face in the context of their communities. The tools from this initiative have been adapted for broad use by the MCH community. Please click here for a message from Kansas.

Kansas Examples:

AMCHP/ASTHO Webinar: Improving Birth Outcomes in the U.S.: State Efforts to Reduce Prematurity (July 12, 2012)

This webinar highlighted state efforts and strategies from Alaska, Oklahoma and Vermont to reduce prematurity and improve birth outcomes. The webinar recording and slides can be accessed here.

Partnership to Eliminate Disparities in Infant Mortality (PEDIM) (February 2011)

In 2008, CityMatCH, the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP), and the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA), with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, created the Partnership to Eliminate Disparities in Infant Mortality, with an aim to decrease racial disparities in infant mortality in U.S. urban areas. From this collaboration, a report and a toolkit were produced.  

  • To access the report, Taking the First Steps: Experiences of Six Community/State Teams Addressing Racism's Impact on Infant Mortality, click here.
  • To access the toolkit, Exercises for Team-Building and Community Action Planning, click here.

Emerging, Promising and Best Practices on Improving Birth Outcomes          

This table summarizes current practices successfully reviewed and accepted into AMCHP’s Innovation Station that relate to infant mortality and improving birth outcomes, including preconception and interconception health. To access this table click here

State Infant Mortality Collaborative (SIMC) (2004-2006)

In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, AMCHP supported data to action initiatives in five states.  Teams used epidemiology to discern the underlying factors responsible for excess infant mortality and identify opportunities for intervention. Click here to access the full report of the SIMC project. 

Staff Contact

Jeanette Kowalik, PhD, MPH
Associate Director, Women's & Infant Health; Program Team
(202) 266-3044