preterm-infantsThe health status of infants is a clear indicator of the health a society can expect for generations to come. An infant’s health begins before conception and includes a healthy and prepared biological mother and an environment that optimizes infant health. With that in mind, Maternal and Child Health (MCH) encompasses much more than healthy babies; it entails creating ideal environments for promoting intentional pregnancies, lowering infant mortality and morbidity rates, advocating for the needs of infants and their caregivers, and raising healthy generations of infants, children, and adults.

Overall, there have been great achievements in the health of infants.

MCH efforts have come a long way with infant mortality rates dropping from 150 in 1900 to 7 in recent years. (Additional information about infant health trends can be found at: March of Dimes Peristats) However, current rates fall short of the Healthy People (HP) 2020 targets.  HP 2020 targets aim to achieve rates of 4.1 per 1,000 for neonatal infant mortality and 2.0 per 1,000 for postneonatal infant mortality. In order to reach the HP 2020 goals, infant mortality is being approached from a variety of avenues. One such approach includes the ongoing and nationwide “Safe to Sleep” campaign, which advocates for safe infant sleep and reducing the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep related causes of infant death.