New Effort to Reduce Infant Mortality in the U.S. Launches

Abt project to work in 13 states with high infant death rates

Sep 20, 2012, 13:00 ET from Abt Associates

BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Abt Associates has won a $1.4 million Health Resources and Services Administration contract to help reduce infant mortality in America by supporting five Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Networks and improving birth outcomes.

"Infant mortality in the U.S. is a bigger problem than in most developed countries and we're going to tackle the issue in the regions of the country with the biggest challenges," said Deborah Klein Walker, Ed.D., the project's senior advisor. Walker is a vice president, senior fellow and the practice leader for Public Health and Epidemiology at Abt Associates.

The project will work in five Department of Health and Human Services' networks, which include the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Most states in these regions have infant mortality rates that are 10 percent to 30 percent higher than those in other regions.

The project will focus on five areas: reducing elective deliveries before 39 weeks, expanding Medicaid coverage of interconception care between pregnancies, promoting safe sleep, increasing smoking cessation among pregnant women, and improving regional access to health care for pregnant women and their infants. Project leaders will assist teams from a range of maternal and infant health care providers and stakeholders to implement and monitor innovations in maternal and child health care in their local settings.

"The number of infant deaths in the U.S. each year is shocking," said Scott Royal, vice president of Abt's U.S. Health division. "This award is recognition that Abt Associates intimately understands maternal and child health issues at the federal and state levels."

The U.S. infant mortality rate is 6.6 per 1,000 live births, compared with an average of 4.6 per 1,000 births in the 34 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development nations. The U.S. rate includes persistent racial and ethnic disparities. In 2010 the rate for non-Hispanic black mothers was more twice that of non-Hispanic white mothers: 11.7 per 1,000 vs. 5.3 per 1,000.

Abt's partners in the project are the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality.

About Abt Associates

Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates was ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms in 2012 and also named one of the top 40 international development innovators.  The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in nearly 40 countries.

SOURCE Abt Associates