Trend and Analysis
Assuring the health of the public extends beyond the health status of individuals; it requires a population health approach. Infant mortality is a critical indicator of the overall health of a population because it is directly linked to maternal overall health and the social determinants of health. Social determinants of health are conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Healthy People 2020 highlights the importance of addressing the social determinants of health by including “Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all” as one of the four overarching goals for the decade.
There are three programs that address maternal and infant health and the impact social determinates on their overall health and well-being. These programs include: Babies Born Healthy (BBH) which uses Perinatal Navigators who are outreach workers that work closely with at-risk pregnant women to link to care and support services and to offer health education with a focus on safe sleep, smoking cessation: Healthy Beginnings (formerly Infants at Risk and Healthy Start), which supports mothers and their infants up to age one who are at highest risk of poor health outcomes due to medical and psychosocial issues and Fetal Infant Mortality Review, which is a program funded by the State to review infant death records for cause and effect and to make recommendations to providers and the State. The agency works closely with Prince George’s Hospital and Medstar Southern Maryland Hospital who are the primary referring entities. Other hospitals, agencies and private practices also refer cases.