The high rate of infant mortality in the United States, along with related health inequities, demand renewed attention from the nation's public health leadership. ASTHO President Dr. David Lakey (TX) has chosen to focus on improving birth outcomes as his President's Challenge, building on the challenge issued by his predecessor, Commissioner John Auerbach (MA), on health equity. ASTHO's Healthy Babies Project will support state health officials (SHOs) and their staffs with improving health outcomes for infants.

Dr. Lakey has been working with his colleagues in HHS Regions IV and VI to develop a regional quality-improvement project focused on decreasing infant mortality, with an initial emphasis on prematurity. The Presidential Challenge will ask all SHOs to implement strategies based on successful national, regional, and state efforts, tailoring best and promising practices for maximum impact throughout the country. ASTHO is collaborating with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of HRSA, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, the March of Dimes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other partners to develop a national strategy to reduce infant mortality and prematurity acrosss the United States.

Healthy Babies Project Goals and Objectives

Goal: Improve birth outcomes by reducing infant mortality and prematurity in the United States.

Overall Objectives:

1. Focus on improving birth outcomes as SHOs and state leadership teams work with state partners on health and community system changes.

2. Create a unified message that builds on the best practices from around the nation and the efforts from Regions IV and VI, which can be adopted by states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.

3. Develop clear measurements to evaluate targeted outreach, progress, and return on investment.

Case Studies from States and Additional Resources


Healthy Babies Map