Category Archives: Infant Mortality

A Public Health Response to Opioid Use in Pregnancy

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a policy statement titled: A Public Health Response to Opioid Use in Pregnancy . The statement addresses findings regarding pregnant women with substance abuse and the effectiveness of policies in response to the opioid epidemic. Since 1990 the AAP has advised that “punitive measures taken toward pregnant women, such as criminal prosecution and incarceration, have no proven benefits for infant health” and recommended that “the public must be assured of non-punitive access to comprehensive care that meets the needs of the substance-abusing pregnant woman and her infant.”

According to the statement, while almost 50 percent of all US pregnancies are unintended, the rate for women with opioid use disorder was higher than 85 percent. In addition, opioid use in pregnancy is on the rise, resulting in an increase in opioid-exposed infants. According to a 2009 report by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, each year an estimated 400,000 infants are exposed to alcohol or illicit drugs in utero.

To address this concern, the AAP highlights the importance of primary prevention as an effective public health approach to combat substance use during pregnancy. Specifically, the role that preconception and inter-conception care play in improving the outcomes for pregnant women, particularly women with opioid use disorder. Included in this public health approach, are recommendations to improve education, equality and access to health care.

Click here to view the entire report.

Address correspondence to Stephen W. Patrick, MD, MPH, MS, FAAP. E-mail:


Webinar: Fatality Review of Deaths of Infants

The National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention will host the webinar Fatality Review of Deaths of Infants, Children and Youth with Disabilities and Special Health Care Needs. The webinar is scheduled for February 8, 2017, from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EST

To register:

Approximately one-fifth of the cases reviewed by the Child Death Review (CDR) teams and entered into the CDR-Case Reporting System are deaths of children with disabilities and/or special health care needs. Infants and children with disabilities/special health care needs have different risks for death than their peers without these conditions. To conduct effective reviews of such deaths, CDR and FIMR teams need knowledge of disability/special health care needs in order to determine what role, if any, the disability/special health care needs played in the death.

Introduction: Diane Pilkey,* RN, MPH, Senior Nurse Consultant at the Maternal and Child Health Bureau/ Health Resources and Services Administration and the federal project officer for the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention cooperative agreement.

Moderator: Faith Vos Winkel,* MSW, Assistant Child Advocate, Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate and Coordinator of Connecticut CFR program.

Guest Speaker: Joan A. Scott,* MS, CGC, Acting Director, Division of Children with Special Health Needs, Maternal and Child Health Bureau/Health Resources and Services Administration.

Speaker: Linda Potter,* JD, Associate Director, National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention.

The webinar will be recorded and posted with the slides on the NCFRP website:

Tanya Lewis Lee Talks her experience with Preconception Peer Educator in Ebony

Recently, author and filmmaker, Tanya Lewis Lee sat down with Ebony to discuss upcoming projects and reflect on her work in women’s health. Lee opened up about her experience as an entrepreneur and exposure to health disparities among women of color. She told the magazine that as a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health campaign A Healthy Baby Begins with You, her eyes were opened to the challenges of women’s health.

This experience, Lee says, gave her the desire to advocate for women’s health. Lee, who would later produce Crisis in the Crib: Saving our Nation’s Babies, admitted that she was surprised to learn of the disparities between Black and White women and infant mortality in the United States. Since her time with the campaign, Lee has been outspoken on women’s health issues. During the interview Lee stated, “If our babies aren’t well, our women aren’t well, and if our women aren’t well then that means our communities aren’t well.”

Lee’s experience with A Health Baby Begins with You and subsequent Preconception Peer Educator Program is still influential in her current efforts. Lee’s activities include promoting multivitamin use, encouraging honest discussion on women’s health and providing resources to assist women lead a healthy lifestyle. And she doesn’t only preach it, she practices.

“I want to be working until I’m 95 years old in some way,” Lee said. “I want to be engaged, active, and able to move, feel good, and contribute. I know in order to do that I’ve got to take care of my body. So, for me it’s really about taking care of my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being to carry me through my life, so I can do all the things I want to accomplish.”

Lewis went on to state that she’d be interested in hosting community events where women can discuss barriers to health in an open forum. She is available on Twitter @TLewisLee and her blog features recipes, exercise tips and news on women’s health. The full interview is available online at

Preconception Health

Preconception care is defined as a set of interventions that aim to identify and modify biomedical, behavioral and social risks to the woman’s health or pregnancy outcome through prevention and management. Certain steps should be taken before conception or early in pregnancy to maximize health outcomes. (CDC)

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that all health encounters during a woman’s reproductive years, particularly those that are a part of preconception care, should include counseling on appropriate health behaviors to optimize pregnancy outcomes and prevent maternal mortality.

Preconception Health Checklist

Women don’t need to wait until they are pregnant to take steps to improve their health. Reaching a healthy weight, getting proper nutrition, managing chronic health conditions, and seeking help for substance use and abuse, for example, can help a woman achieve better health before she is pregnant. Her improved health, in turn, can help to reduce infant mortality risks for any babies she has in the future.

8 things you should talk to your doctor about before getting pregnant

During pregnancy, the mother’s health, environment, and experiences affect how her fetus develops and the course of the pregnancy. By taking good care of her own health before and during pregnancy, a mother can reduce her baby’s risk of many of the leading causes of infant mortality in the United States, including birth defects, preterm birth, low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and certain pregnancy complications.

Infant Mortality

The death of a baby before his or her first birthday is called infant mortality. The infant mortality rate is an estimate of the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. This rate is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a nation, because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also impact the mortality rate of infants. There are obvious differences in infant mortality by age, race, and ethnicity; for instance, the mortality rate for non-Hispanic black infants is more than twice that of non-Hispanic white infants.

infant mortality rate by state


Health of babies depends on the health of the population—not only mothers but fathers, families, and society. US infant mortality rate (6.7 per 1,000 births) 28th among industrialized countries.


Click the widget below to compare infant mortality rates worldwide

Preconception health care is an important strategy to reducing the infant mortality rate. “Good preconception health and health care means living a safe, healthy lifestyle and managing any current health conditions before getting pregnant.” All men and women can benefit from preconception care, whether or not they plan on having a child because preconception care is about getting and staying healthy.

Preconception care information for women can be found here

Preconception care information for men can be found here