The infant mortality rate for the United States rose 3% in 2022, according to a newly released report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the first year-over-year increase in the rate in 20 years. The report also demonstrated that infant mortality rates increased significantly due to maternal complications.
This new data is alarming to the National Service Office (NSO) for Nurse-Family Partnership ® and Child First, with President and CEO Charlotte Min-Harris issuing the following statement:
“It’s tragic that an estimated 20,538 U.S. infants died in 2022 – a 3% increase from 2021. We know that significant disparities continue to exist in pregnancy and birth outcomes according to race, ethnicity, age, income and health insurance status. The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program works to prevent both maternal and infant mortality and morbidity by addressing longstanding risk factors that lead to these tragic outcomes.
The NSO’s dedication to bridging health gaps is evident through the NFP program, providing no-cost nurse home visits, targeting underserved populations. These visits, which start early in pregnancy and continue until the child turns two, are pivotal in preventing adverse health outcomes. Currently, over 2,000 nurses across 40 states, including the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and in Tribal communities are engaged in this initiative.
The new CDC data indicates that infant mortality rates increased significantly due to maternal complications. According to the March of Dimes, 36% of infant deaths are related to pre-term labor. Preterm birth and babies born at a low birth weight are the second leading causes of infant deaths. Participants in the NFP program are closely monitored by their NFP nurse for signs of these conditions to provide early prevention and intervention. Today, more than 2,000 NFP nurses work within 260 local network partners spanning 40 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. Virgin Islands to provide these vital services.
NFP nurses provide health education, support care coordination and empower new parents to advocate for themselves. NFP maternal health outcomes have demonstrated that when first-time parents are paired with a registered nurse across the perinatal period, there are 35% fewer cases of pregnancy-induced hypertension, 18% fewer preterm births and a 79% reduction in preterm delivery among women who smoke cigarettes.
The increase in infant mortality rates signifies an urgent need for expanded services like those offered by NFP and for comprehensive policy reforms to combat the maternal health crisis affecting American families. The NFP’s continuum of care is a critical component of the solution, providing ongoing, consistent support to parents and children at a time when it’s most needed. This trend in rising infant mortality rates signals a pressing need to expand and enhance services like those offered by NFP and Child First.
Our goal is to extend the reach of these programs as a preventive measure to a greater number of families who need us most. We appeal to community leaders, healthcare providers, and policymakers to invest in and advocate for policies that will provide the necessary resources to address the nation’s maternal and child health crisis. By strengthening these programs, we can build a healthier future for parents and infants across the country. Join us in this crucial effort to improve lives and ensure the well-being of our communities.”
– Charlotte Min-Harris, President and CEO, National Service Office for Nurse-Family Partnership and Child First