At the beginning of the twentieth century, women of childbearing age and infants were at a substantial risk of death. In the United States, nearly 1% of women of childbearing age died of pregnancy-related complications and 10% of their babies never celebrated their first birthdays (1, 2, 3). During the past century, reductions in maternal and infant mortality were unparalleled historically. The maternal mortality ratio decreased to 15.1 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2005 (4). The infant mortality rate declined more than 90% from 1915 through 2005, decreasing to 6.9 per 1,000 live births.
Improved access to health care, environmental health and sanitation, as well as public health surveillance, increasing levels of education, and other advances contributed to the healthier mothers and babies. Improvements in living and environmental conditions in urban areas were a primary focus in efforts to reduce infant mortality. Milk pasteurization contributed to the reduction in milk-borne...
KeywordsInfant Mortality Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Maternal Mortality Maternal Death Public Health Practitioner
- 1.Meckel RA. 1990. Save the babies: American public health reform and the prevention of infant mortality, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland: 1850–1929.Google Scholar
- 2.Loudon I. 1992. Death in childbirth: an international study of maternal care and maternal mortality, Oxford University Press, New York: 1800–1950.Google Scholar
- 3.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Achievements in public health, 1900–1999: Healthier mothers and babies. MMWR, 48: 849–858.Google Scholar
- 4.Kung HC, Hoyert DL, Xu JQ, Murphy SL. 2008. Deaths: Final data for 2005. National vital statistics reports; 56 National Center for Health Statistics. Hyattsville, MD: no. 10.Google Scholar
- 5.Public Health Service. Vital statistics of the United States, 1950. Vol. 1. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1954:258–259.Google Scholar
- 6.Pharoah POD, Morris JN. 1979; Postneonatal mortality. Epidemiologic Review 1:170–183.Google Scholar
- 9.Children’s Bureau. Changes in infant, childhood, and maternal mortality over the decade of 1939–1948: A graphic analysis. Washington, DC: Children’s Bureau, Social Security Administration, 1950.Google Scholar
- 10.National Center for Health Statistics. Vital statistics of the United States, 1973. Vol II, mortality, part A. Rockville, Maryland: US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1977.Google Scholar
- 13.Alexander GR, Wingate MS, Boulet S. Pregnancy Outcomes of American-Indians: Contrasts among regions and with other ethnic groups. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 2007, October [Epub ahead of print].Google Scholar
- 14.Last JM. 1988. A dictionary of epidemiology, 2nd Oxford University Press, New York:Google Scholar