Press Release

September 27, 2011

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) joined Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in praising the Senate for unanimously adopting a bipartisan resolution recognizing September 2011 as National Infant Mortality Awareness MonthThe resolution highlights the need to increase awareness about infant mortality and access to prenatal care in the United States.

“Despite being one of the wealthiest nations on earth, America has the 29th highest infant mortality rate among industrialized nations, and Maryland has the 12th highest infant mortality rate in the country.  National Infant Mortality Awareness Month presents the opportunity to educate Americans about infant mortality and its contributing factors, including low birth weight, and to recommit ourselves to expanding access to prenatal care.

“Infant mortality is a particularly acute problem in minority communities and those with high rates of unemployment and poverty.  America cannot afford to ignore this problem, which costs us more than $26 billion in excess health care expenditures each year.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act made strides in combating infant mortality by ensuring coverage of maternity benefits and expanding prenatal care services at federally qualified health centers.  I’ve visited several of these centers in Maryland, which are making saving lives by providing at-risk-mothers-to-be with appropriate care and skills to raise healthy babies.”

“I am very glad we have taken this important step to raise awareness about programs that help save lives and ensure our children are healthy,” Senator Burr said. “National Infant Mortality Awareness Month brings attention to risk factors that lead to low birth weight, premature births, and other health complications in babies and mothers. North Carolina has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the U.S., and I am pleased that the Senate was able to bring awareness to these risk factors and the importance of reducing our infant mortality rate.”

“Infant mortality is easily preventable with access to a good health care during a mother’s gestation period and through the early years of a child’s life,” said Senator Menendez.  “Unfortunately it continues to affect our country at alarming rates, particularly minority communities with high rates of unemployment and poverty, impacting our families and our nation’s health budget. As one of the wealthiest nations, this is simply unacceptable. The National Infant Mortality Month gives us an opportunity to raise public awareness about the levels at which this problem continues to affect our communities, and educate women about how easily preventable it is.”

Senator Cardin has prioritized efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities, and he authored the Affordable Care Act section establishing Offices of Minority Health in six agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the new National institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities in Bethesda. Earlier this year, Senator Cardin joined U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and officials from HHS to unveil the Department’s Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, an unprecedented coordinated strategy for eliminating health care disparities in our nation.