2017 Semifinalist
City of Baltimore, MD
January 1, 2017

Baltimore City has historically had one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the country: in 2009, 127 babies died before their first birthday — a mortality rate nearly twice that of the national average. Disparities were significant as well: black babies in Baltimore were at the time five times more likely to die than white babies were. To tackle this challenge, hundreds of organizations were working across Baltimore to improve health outcomes for infants, but this resulted in program and data silos, as well as duplication of work. B’More for Healthy Babies (BHB) was developed in response to this public health crisis and the subsequent fragmentation of efforts. It is a comprehensive, collaborative initiative that brings together city agencies, health-care institutions, community-based programs, and leaders from multiple sectors including private, nonprofit, academic, and public to tackle the multiple causes of infant mortality. Key features include home visits, early Head Start, the Sleep Safe initiative, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, a prenatal health literacy program called Baby Basics, a family planning program, and a program to prevent substance-exposed pregnancies. Five years after the launch of BHB, the gap between black and white infant deaths has closed by almost 35 percent. The infant mortality rate has decreased by 23 percent over the past seven years. Infant sleep-related deaths have decreased by 50 percent since the initiative was launched. In 2014, there were 13 sleep-related deaths, the lowest number in Baltimore in recorded history. Teen birth rates in Baltimore have also seen a significant reduction of 36 percent from 2009 to 2013.