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W.K. Kellogg Foundation hosts congressional briefing on strengthening the health of our nation’s mothers and children

Healthy pregnancies and healthy babies are integral to the long-term success of communities. Yet the United States consistently has one of the highest infant mortality rates among developed nations.

With the 30th anniversary of Margaret Heckler’s report to Congress addressing racial disparities in infant health approaching, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation hosted a Congressional briefing today focused on strengthening the health of our nation’s mothers and children.

The briefing, co-hosted by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, the American Public Health Association and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs and in coordination with the Congressional Asian and Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Native American Caucus, the Congressional Children’s Caucus and the Congressional Women’s Caucus, featured a panel of distinguished speakers to address these issues before members of Congress and their staff. Speakers included:

•  Kimberly Seals Allers, Mocha Manual;
•  Mario Drummonds, Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership, Inc.;
•  Dr. Larry Grummer-Strawn, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
•  Kay Johnson, Johnson Associates and Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality;
•  Dr. Eleanor Schwarz, Women’s Health Services Research Unit, University of Pittsburgh

The statistics should give everyone pause. Nearly a half million babies in the U.S. – one of every eight  – are born prematurely each year, and those who survive face an increased risk of lifelong health challenges. 

Moreover, the country faces a troubling racial disparity in infant mortality rates. African American babies are twice as likely to die before their first birthday as are white babies. Persistent racial and economic disparities contribute to our nation’s high infant mortality rates and preterm births, undermining the health and well-being of our children.

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