September 28, 2023

Van Hollen, Cohen, Graves Introduce the NEWBORN Act to Address High Infant Mortality Rates

In conjunction with Infant Mortality Awareness Month, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Congressmen Steve Cohen (Tenn.-9) and Garret Graves (La.-6) introduced the Nationally Enhancing the Wellbeing of Babies through Outreach and Research Now (NEWBORN) Act to help address America’s unacceptably high infant mortality rate with concrete solutions. If enacted, this bipartisan bill would create infant mortality-focused pilot programs in the highest-risk areas of the country to help those most in need address this devastating crisis.

“The pain of losing a baby is unthinkable, but far too many families endure it – often at higher rates in underserved and minority communities where there are significant disparities in prenatal and infant care. We need to continue working to ensure all mothers and families have the support they need. Targeting federal investments to underserved communities to establish and provide wraparound care – much like Baltimore is already doing with its B’More for Healthy Babies Program – is a key step towards making infant mortality a thing of the past,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Memphis and the Mid-South continue to have some of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. Although we have made some progress over the years, we must do more to help mothers and their children in Memphis. This includes ensuring that pregnant mothers have the resources they need to deliver healthy babies and the tools to raise them to become healthy adults. Passing the NEWBORN Act will be a good first step,” said Congressman Cohen.

In the United States, more children die before their first birthdays than in 19 other wealthy countries. The U.S. rate per capita is higher than Cuba, Canada, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan.

The NEWBORN Act pilot programs would be designed to educate at-risk and potential mothers about pregnancy and prenatal care. This legislation will help create a better understanding of the causes of infant mortality and best practices for preventing it.

Grant funding would go toward addressing one or more of the top five reasons for infant mortality including (1) birth defects, (2) preterm birth and low birth weight, (3) sudden infant death syndrome, (4) maternal pregnancy complications, and/or (5) injuries to the infant.

Representatives Nanette Barragan (CA-44), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-1), Raul Grijalva (AZ-7), and Derek Kilmer (WA-6) joined Congressmen Cohen and Graves as original cosponsors of the bill in the House of Representatives.