Monica Barr

Putting the Cross-Sector Gears in Motion: How 3 Best Babies Zones Are Moving Towards Cross-Sector Action to Reduce Disparities in Infant Mortality

Full Story The Best Babies Zone (BBZ) Initiative has been working on the social determinants of health for four years. In 2012, BBZ was launched to address the social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to poor birth outcomes. With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, three small pilot "zones" were launched in Cincinnati, OH, New Orleans, LA, and Oakland, CA. In these cities, a lead organization connects and convenes partners from across sectors, creating possibilities for innovative projects that address the root causes of infant mortality in that community.

Baby Sleeping On Back In A Box

Boxing Out Unsafe Sleep Practices for Babies

Full Story In the 1930s, Finland's infant mortality rate reached 65 deaths per 1,000 live births, leading to the 1938 introduction of baby boxes—kits that include a mattress, bedding, diapers, a box that serves as a crib and other necessities. By 2015, that rate had dwindled to an estimated 2.52 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2014, there were 3,500 sudden unexpected infant deaths in the United States, 25 percent of which were caused by accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed. Learning from Finland’s success, organizations in the U.S. are beginning to offer their own baby boxes to new families.

RI Social Determinants of Health

Rhode Island Targets Social Factors to Achieve Health Equity

Full Story While a higher percentage of Rhode Islanders have health insurance compared to the U.S. average, achieving health equity has been a challenge for the state—especially for its infant mortality rate. Now, the Rhode Island Department of Health is targeting key social factors that impact infant mortality in minority groups, including education, income and stress.

Tamara Kramer

Medicaid Strategies to Promote Full-Term Births

Full Story Reducing the rate of pre-term birth is a major priority for state health agencies and a growing concern for state Medicaid programs. Medicaid agencies provide coverage for over half of the nation's births each year and pay for a higher rate of premature or low-birth weight babies than the private insurance market (10.4 percent versus 9.1 percent).

Tennessee Safe Sleep Poster

ABCs of Safe Sleep Education Reduces Sleep-Related Infant Deaths in Tennessee

Full Story Through a multi-faceted statewide campaign, which includes teaching new parents and hospital staff the ABCs of safe sleep practices, Tennessee has seen a 25 percent reduction in sleep-related infant deaths since 2014. Tennessee's successful safe sleep strategy has focused on teaching and modeling safe sleep behaviors—both in the hospital setting and directly with parents—using the primary message, "Remember the ABCs of Safe Sleep."

Delaware Hones in on Medical-Legal Partnerships

Delaware Hones in on Medical-Legal Partnerships to Reduce Infant Mortality

Full Story The Delaware team participating in the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN), led by NICHQ, is working to develop medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) to address these stressors in an integrated way and improve health outcomes for women and babies.

Just Download It App

Just Download It: Wyoming Discovers Novel Way to Help Pregnant Mothers

Full Story Wyoming is improving its birth outcomes one downloader at a time. An interactive mobile app—Due Date Plus—that the state Medicaid office developed for pregnant women is redefining prenatal education and transforming how Medicaid meets the needs of its pregnant population.

Edward Donovan

Focusing on Population-Level, Collaborative, Perinatal Outcomes Improvement

Full Story It is becoming increasingly clear that efforts to improve risk-appropriate site of delivery may benefit from close collaboration among perinatal care providers, payers and public health organizations. State health departments and state hospital associations often manage repositories of population-level perinatal data while perinatal quality collaboratives can engage front-line providers. Collaborative partnerships among these entities can facilitate improved outcomes at the population level.

Baby In Intensive Care

Better Care for High-Risk Babies: Improving Perinatal Regionalization in Illinois

Full Story When the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Risk Appropriate Care Task Force formed, its mission was succinct: to ensure that very preterm infants get delivered in the right place at the right time. Considered the most fragile newborns, very preterm babies make up more than half of infant deaths in the U.S. While many hospitals lack the capabilities to care for such infants, high-risk babies born in specialized perinatal facilities face a far greater likelihood of surviving and thriving.

4 Strategies for Building a Public Health Social Movement

4 Strategies for Building a Public Health Social Movement

Full Story Forget the old marketing tactic of shouting loud and often. Mario Drummonds, MS, LCSW, MBA, the CEO of Strategy Interactions, and a participant in the NICHQ-led Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN), shares four strategies for building a public health social movement to increase state and national attention on your healthcare issue.

Pregnant Woman Visiting Doctor

South Carolina Finds Winning Strategy to Reduce Unintended Pregnancies

Full Story In South Carolina, half of all pregnancies in 2010 were unintended, primarily due to either lack of or failed contraceptives. Within the South Carolina Medicaid population, almost 79 percent of women defined their pregnancy as unintended. To reduce this percentage, South Carolina Medicaid began a policy change in 2012 aimed at increasing the use of immediate postpartum inpatient insertions of long-acting, reversible contraceptives (LARCs).

The IM CoIIN Collaboratory

How Kansas is Leveraging the Infant Mortality CoIIN to Accelerate Improvement

Full Story Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Networks (CoIINs) offer many tools and resources for their participants. From driver diagrams to measurement strategies to change packages and collaboration tools, the underlying supports for accelerating change are all there. A participant just needs to reach out and embrace them.

Conference Presentation

Join the Interactive Webinar on Improving the Health of New Mothers

Full Story NICHQ, along with partners AMCHP and the UNC Center for Maternal and Infant Health, is turning the session "Improving the Health of New Mothers: Building Woman-Centered Postpartum Systems of Care" into a free public webinar. We invite you to join us on Feb. 2, from 3:30-5 p.m. ET

Making Sense of Data

Medicaid Data Increasingly Used to Improve State's Maternal and Child Health Programs

Full Story With America's infant mortality rate almost three times higher than other industrialized countries and low-income families affected most significantly, a growing number of states are using Medicaid data to spot trends in maternal and child health outcomes.

Baby In NICU Sleeping Safely

Perinatal Quality Collaboratives are Partners in Safe Sleep Message Spread

Full Story Recently, several perinatal quality collaboratives (PQCs)—networks of perinatal care providers and public health professionals working to improve pregnancy outcomes for women and newborns—have begun to focus their attention on improving safe sleep practices in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) as a step toward reducing infant mortality rates.

Asian Baby Sleeping on Back

States Use Home Visiting Programs to Spread Safe Sleep Messages

Full Story The growing demand for maternal and child health services and support, coupled with stagnant or shrinking resources, is causing state health departments to find creative ways to do more with less. Many states are leveraging home visiting programs as a convenient way to spread important information and strategies related to safe sleep practices, a key component of infant mortality reduction efforts.

March of Dimes Premature Baby

Battling Prematurity to Ensure a Fighting Chance for Every Baby

Full Story Every year, about 380,000 babies are born too soon in the United States. Our preterm birth rate of 9.6 percent places the U.S. among the worst of high resource nations. Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death and babies who survive an early birth often face serious and lifelong health problems. November is the time to focus the spotlight on the problem of prematurity during Prematurity Awareness Month and World Prematurity Day Nov. 17.

APHA Posters 2015

Bringing the APHA Poster Session to You

Full Story NICHQ staff members were thrilled to see so many familiar faces at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Chicago earlier this week. The meeting's theme was "Health in All Policies." We couldn’t agree more that the environments in which people learn, live, play and work have a tremendous impact on their health.

VIDEO: Methods For Moving A Nation

VIDEO: Methods for Moving a Nation

Full Story The Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN) is cleverly combining three key methods for change—collaborative learning, innovation networks and quality improvement—to achieve results in reducing infant mortality across the country. Hear from IM CoIIN participants about how this novel approach is having a profound impact in helping more children reach their first birthdays and beyond.

Pregnant Mother Getting A Checkup

Managing Life Stressors Helps to Reduce Infant Mortality

Full Story By addressing the underlying causes of infant mortality, in particular, stress, teams hope to reduce infant deaths overall, as well as close the disparity gap between white and black babies.

Smoking Cessation In Pregnant Women

Diaper Vouchers Add Extra Incentive for Pregnant Women to Quit Smoking

Full Story It is not exactly cold hard cash, but don’t poo poo it. Free diapers are enough of an incentive to encourage pregnant women to quit smoking and stay quit.

State of Wisconsin

A Practical Approach to Keep Stakeholders Engaged: Factsheets Are Helping Wisconsin Build and Maintain Support for their Infant Health Work

Full Story When it comes to building and maintaining support for its ongoing infant mortality reduction efforts, the Wisconsin Division of Public Health has a practical solution: repackage and re-share. Factsheets are helping Wisconsin build and maintain support for their infant health work.

Charles Daniels

Inspiring Change through Motivational Interviewing

Full Story Helping people make a long-term, healthy lifestyle choice doesn’t have to be daunting. The key lies in motivating—not indoctrinating—the client. Motivational interviewing is a style of communication for helping someone explore and resolve their ambivalence to change.

Engaging Native Populations

Addressing Infant Health Disparities in the American Indian Population Starts by Building Trust with Tribes

Full Story Native Americans have rich traditions and beliefs that often conflict with Western healthcare culture. To address disparities in infant health in this vulnerable population, experts say public health and healthcare workers need to build relationships first, then offer advice second.

Baby in NICU with Mother

Resources and Must Reads for Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Full Story NICHQ is joining with organizations around the country and world to celebrate Infant Mortality Awareness Month in September. We invite you to explore and share our resources, stories, videos and other materials related to reducing infant mortality rates.

Smoking Cessation Program

States Put the Squash on Smoking During Pregnancy

Full Story One of the core strategies for lowering the U.S. infant mortality rate is to reduce smoking before, during and after pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy is associated with multiple fetal health risks, including sudden unexpected infant death. Currently, 21 of 53 states and territories that are part of the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN) are testing different smoking cessation methods in their communities.

Alaska Perinatal Baby

Alaska Shows Perinatal Regionalization Works to Reduce Infant Deaths

Full Story When Stephanie Birch, RNC, MPH, MS, was a new nurse in 1982, Alaska’s infant mortality rate was the highest in the nation. More than 30 years later, Alaska sits at the opposite end of the spectrum, with the lowest rate of infant deaths. While it wasn’t a quick fix, Birch says Alaska shows significant improvement is possible. “You have to be willing to be open to the possibilities for improvement,” she says. “And, don’t give up.”

Washington Substance Use

Investigating a Possible Link Between Substance Abuse and Infant Mortality

Full Story Washington state is known for having a low rate of infant mortality—fifth lowest in the U.S. But the state is still actively working on reducing infant mortality even further. In fact, leaders in the state are developing an interesting strategy that targets substance abuse.

JAMA Pediatrics Journal

Viewpoint: A Novel Method for Tackling Complex Population Health Problems

Full Story In a Viewpoint published in JAMA Pediatrics, NICHQ authors illustrate how collaborative improvement and innovation networks (CoIINs) can be implemented to achieve results in a population health context.

Nancy Maruyama

A First Response to Safe Sleep Habits

Full Story Thousands of infants die each year in unsafe sleep conditions. Sadly, the majority of sleep-related deaths are preventable. One innovative and successful approach to reduce these tragedies is to train law enforcement, fire rescue squads and other first responders to educate families about safe sleep habits.

Strengthening and Leveraging Preconception and Interconception Health

Full Story Promoting women’s health before (preconception) and in between (interconception) pregnancies has garnered the attention of 30 of 53 states and jurisdictions participating in the NICHQ-led Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN). Read about how national partnerships are elevating the work on this important health topic.

Saving Babies - CoIIN Video

VIDEO: Saving Babies - Reducing Infant Mortality

Full Story In this second video from the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) to Reduce Infant Mortality, hear success stories and strategies used by three different states to reduce infant mortality and eliminate racial disparities.

Dr. Lauren Smith

High-Profile Coverage for a High-Passion Concern

Full Story We are excited and galvanized by our progress so far in reducing infant mortality and hope you will help us spread awareness about this critically important issue. I invite you to participate, learn, share and donate through the Huffington Post fundraising campaign. Our eyes are on the prize of reducing infant mortality and eliminated disparities in infant mortality.


LARC Accessibility, Knowledge Key for Better Interconception Care

Full Story Contraception is often the last thing on a woman's mind right after her baby is born. But increasing maternal access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) immediately after delivery could have a positive impact on the health of the newborn and future siblings.

Mario Drummonds and Megan Lessard

What’s Behind NYC's Drastic Decrease in Infant Mortality Rates?

Full Story The saying, "if you can make it here you can make it anywhere," of New York City, holds true for even its youngest members. New York City’s infant mortality rate - 4.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in the first year of life - is nearly 30 percent lower than the US rate. What’s the city’s secret?

Tricia Finnerty

Putting Unsafe Sleep Marketing to Bed

Full Story It's vitally important that parents and other infant caregivers receive consistent and accurate messaging on safe sleep—from their healthcare providers, their support systems, state agencies and what they see in media and retail. But unfortunately, expectant families receive a lot of mixed messages.

Delaware Kicks Counts

How Delaware Became a Model for States in Preventing Infant Deaths

Full Story Delaware is capturing the attention of the nation as a source of public health and healthcare innovation. The state’s commitment to examining its infant mortality data, searching for common themes and then creating awareness campaigns to address the unwanted trends is leading to fewer infant deaths.

Black baby in the NICU at the hospital

VIDEO: Tackling a National Embarrassment

Full Story The U.S. infant mortality rate, one of the worst among all industrialized nations, is a national embarrassment. But teams from every state, jurisdiction and territory are joining together to find innovative solutions to preventing and reducing infant mortality across the U.S.

Pregnant Women In Group Setting

Group Care for Women and Babies Reduces Pre-Term Births, Increases Care Satisfaction

Full Story States and jurisdictions across the U.S. are seeking innovative, new solutions for reducing infant mortality. Sharon Schindler Rising, CNM, MSN, the founder of Centering Healthcare Institute, believes that a solution lies in group care for pregnant women. And, the results are proving her right.

Despondent Woman Next To Empty Crib, Holding Teddy Bear

Maternal Interviews Key to Addressing Infant Mortality

Full Story Losing an infant is devastating. Not learning from that experience is a tragedy. That’s why the National Fetal-Infant Mortality Review Program (NFIMR) is working to support the expansion of its review programs across the country.

Charlene Collier

Saving Newborns by Changing the Delivery System

Full Story Reducing infant mortality isn't just a matter of treating a patient’s medical problems. Treating the medical system can have a significant impact, too.

Deborah Frazier

Thoughts from a Pioneer and Leader in the Drive to Reduce Infant Mortality

Full Story As the work of the CoIIN to Reduce Infant Mortality begins, NICHQ spoke with Deborah Frazier, CEO, National Healthy Start Association, to get her perspective as a leader and pioneer in the field.

Lacy Fehrenbach

Taking the Fight to Reduce Infant Mortality Nationwide

Full Story NICHQ is leading a massive, national effort to change these statistics called the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) to Reduce Infant Mortality.

Infant Being Held by Doctor

Hundreds Gather to Reduce Infant Mortality

Full Story Last month, hundreds of federal, state and local public health officials, Medicaid directors and public and private agency representatives from across the United States gathered together in Arlington, VA, for the Infant Mortality Summits.