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Infant mortality rate for children under 1 year old

Decrease the infant mortality rate for children under 1 year old to 4.4. per 1,000 births by 2020

Supplemental Information
Why is this a priority?

Infant death is a marker of a society's overall health and points to bigger underlying issues like the quality of healthcare, access to services, health inequity and risky individual behaviors. In Washington, the leading causes of infant deaths are birth defects, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and being born too early. We also have some racial and ethnic groups with infant death rates higher than the state average.

How are we doing?

Washington's infant mortality rate is one of the best in country at 5.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. However, some groups have higher rates of infant deaths. In 2012, the infant death rate for Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders was 13.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, for Blacks it was 10 deaths per 1,000 live births and for Native American/Alaska Natives it was 8.5 deaths per 1,000 live births .

What are we working on?
  • Collaboration with the American Indian Health Commission

We are working with the American Indian Health Commission on how to reduce preterm birth among American Indians in Washington.

  • Coordination of Washington State Perinatal Collaborative

There are many different organizations committed to improving the health of mothers and babies in Washington. This group strategizes on statewide initiatives. The organizations include: the March of Dimes, the Washington State Hospital Association, Health Care Authority, the University of Washington and the Washington State Perinatal Regional Network.

  • Family planning

Babies born preterm are more likely to have low birth weight. Women who have already had a preterm birth are more likely to have another one. Having at least one year between pregnancies can reduce the chance of having another preterm birth. In order to allow enough time before having another baby, women need access to reliable birth control. We fund sixteen family planning agencies across the state.

  • Partnering with healthcare providers

We are working with healthcare providers on how to increase access to and appropriate use of 17 OH-Progesterone, a medication that may prevent preterm birth for women who have already had a preterm birth. We also develop and maintain tools for providers to use to help pregnant women quit smoking.

  • Prenatal care

We are partnering with Health Care Authority to help pregnant women on Medicaid get prenatal care as early as possible.

  • Referrals to support programs

We collaborate with Health Care Authority to promote the First Steps Maternity Support Services program for low-income women. We also collaborate with the Department of Early Learning to support home visiting programs to help women have healthy pregnancies.

  • Safe Sleep

 We recently developed an educational material for parents about safe sleep to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

  • Substance use screening and treatment programs

We would like to partner with addiction treatment programs to integrate family planning, pregnancy and parenting into treatment plans. We would also like to increase substance use screening and referrals by healthcare providers as part of routine care.

  • Tobacco cessation

Smoking is a risk factor for preterm birth. We created a workbook for pregnant women on how to quit smoking. It will be distributed by healthcare providers, Maternity Support Service programs, and local WIC clinics.

  • Wait One Year campaign

This effort encourages women who have already had a preterm birth to wait one year, quit smoking, and take folic acid.

  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program

WIC is a nutrition program for pregnant women, new and breastfeeding moms, and children under 5. WIC provides monthly checks for healthy food, health screenings and referrals, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support. We are working on a new electronic benefits transfer (EBT) project that would replace the paper checks currently issued to WIC clients.

How can you help?

All women

Ask yourself if you can do more to improve your health. Even if you do not plan to get pregnant, you may feel better. If you do get pregnant, then you improve the chances that you will have a healthy baby. For more information on making positive changes for your health, visit: http://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/WomensHealth.aspx.

Pregnant women 

Women who have already had a preterm birth

Pre-term reported by Department of Health