Department Of Health Launches Infant Mortality Initiative, ´1 For All´

Monday, April 03, 2006 | 07:00pm

State Department Of Health Stresses “Every Baby Deserves A First Birthday”

Nashville, April 4, 2006

As a part of its observance of National Public Health Week, the Tennessee Department of Health today launches its new initiative aimed at significantly reducing infant mortality in Tennessee, “1 For All.” The initiative involves developing strategies in local communities where infant mortality is more prevalent and engaging stakeholders to garner their support and participation, including government officials, community-based organization representatives, members of the clergy, school system administrators, parents, family members and neighbors.

“For the last few years in Tennessee, at least 680 babies died before their first birthday,” said Health Commissioner Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D. “The ‘1 For All’ initiative stresses that every baby deserves a first birthday. The Department of Health is committed to addressing the prevalence of infant mortality and significantly reducing its rate in Tennessee.”

Infant mortality refers to the death of a live-born infant at any point before the first year of life. Currently, Tennessee is ranked 48th in the nation for infant mortality rate (8.6), the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births, with only two states that have higher rates.

Low birthweight (babies weighing less than five pounds, eight ounces); mothers with less than a high school education; a mother’s lack of prenatal care and/or use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; and improperly placing babies on their stomachs to sleep can increase the risk of infant mortality. However, planned and properly spaced pregnancies, early and regular prenatal care, strong family support, regular exercise, avoidance of drugs, breastfeeding, child-bearing age women knowing to take folic acid, and safe sleep practices are essential components in reducing infant mortality.

Racial disparities exist in infant mortality: African-American babies are twice as likely to die before their first birthday as white babies, and black mothers are also twice as likely to receive inadequate or no prenatal care as white mothers. Further, black infants die more than twice as often as white infants from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is associated with poor sleep practices for babies.

Also as a part of the initiative, the Department is launching a new Web site designed for women 13 and older to visit for healthy living tips and programs available through the Department, and can be accessed at

“My hope is that this Web site becomes an Internet destination for every female – young women, mothers-to-be or new moms – in Tennessee age 13 and older,” said Commissioner Robinson. “There is something for everyone – from pregnancy prevention to prenatal care to caring for a newborn.”

To learn about “1 For All” activities planned for this week across the state, contact your local health department. For a list of health departments statewide, please visit

This week, April 3rd through 7th, marks the 11th annual National Public Health Week (NPHW), themed “Designing Healthy Communities: Raising Healthy Kids.” As part of the weeklong observance, the Tennessee Department of Health is also focusing this week on issues related to the state’s sobering infant mortality statistics.

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