Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) Celebrate Historic Progress in Reducing Infant Mortality

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Brent Ewig (202) 266-3041

Dec. 9, 2015, Washington, DC – Today, the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) applauds the extraordinary news reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that the nation’s infant mortality rate decreased 2.3 percent last year to a historic low of 5.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Infant mortality rates are one of the sentinel measures that gauge how well a society is doing to ensure the health of women, children and families.

Lori Tremmel Freeman, Chief Executive Officer for AMCHP, highlighted this progress with the following statement:

“The recent decline in infant mortality is a public health success story deserving national recognition and celebration. We are helping more babies reach their first birthday than ever before and this is great news.

One foundation for this progress can be traced back to the creation of Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Program as part of the Social Security Act in 1935. This represented the first major federal commitment to partner with states and communities to protect and improve the health of women, children and families. Today, this program in collaboration with others including Medicaid; Community Health Centers; WIC; Title X Family Planning; Healthy Start; Children’s Health Insurance Program; Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program; the Affordable Care Act and critical efforts of the CDC and the National Institutes of Health are collectively improving the lives of babies. Since 1935, the infant mortality rate has dropped a stunning 90 percent, which is evidence that these public investments are making a huge difference.

Moving forward, we need to seize the opportunities to better understand the factors driving this recent success and find ways to accelerate progress. We also need to heighten our focus on reducing disparities because having an infant mortality rate that is twice as high for African American babies than for Caucasians is simply unacceptable.

We must continue to educate policymakers on the returns generated by previous investments – as evidenced by the progress reported today – and share information about how difficult it is to plan and sustain public programs when budget levels that were supposed to be set by October 1 are still unresolved into December.

We must continue to promote the evidence showing that low-tech preventive solutions such as breastfeeding, family planning, immunization, smoking cessation and safe sleep are effective in reducing infant mortality and help avoid spending on high tech treatments like Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs). Funding levels for these key public health programs have never matched actual need, have slowly eroded over time, and are suffering further threats under budget caps.

Perhaps the most important message is that the best opportunity to improve the health of all babies and communities is to focus on improving the health of women before they become pregnant. With these efforts we can work toward a day when all babies in America are born able to achieve their full potential.

For more information on our work in this area, click here. AMCHP thanks all public health professionals and health care providers for their contributions to this success and pledges our continued support for your work.”

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AMCHP is the national membership association of state maternal and child health leaders. As an advocate, resource and partner, AMCHP supports state MCH programs and provides national leadership on issues affecting women, children and families. We envision a society where healthy children and health families live in healthy communities. For more information, visit www.amchp.org or connect with AMCHP on Facebook or Twitter.

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