The District of Columbia’s infant mortality rate experienced a 44 percent decrease between 2005 and 2014, but still remains higher than the national average. The District is working to improve women’s health and increase prenatal and perinatal care and nutrition. This helps prevent infant mortality due to low birth weight and prematurity, leading causes of infant death in DC.
Programs and initiatives working to address child health include:
- Breastfeeding Promotion and Supports
- Evidence-based Home Visitation
- Every Child. Twice By Two (Lead Screening)
- Family Planning
- Healthy Food Access Initiatives like Joyful Food Markets
- Health Insurance Coverage for Children and Pregnant Women
- Healthy Start
- Help Me Grow
- Immunizations and Vaccines for Children
- Newborn Screenings
- Neighborhood Patient-Centered Medical Homes and Dental Homes
- Perinatal Collaborative
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children
For more information on the infant mortality rate in the District of Columbia, see the 2014 Infant Mortality Report. For more information about DC’s efforts to address the health needs of District residents, see the 2017 District of Columbia Health Systems Plan and the DC Healthy People 2020 Framework.
The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides breastfeeding promotion and support, including training personnel, peer counselors, breastfeeding aids and information to women enrolled in the WIC program. For more information on these resources, visit the Breastfeeding Information and Support website.
Home visiting programs can be delivered in your home and offer high-quality health education and social services to ensure your child is school-ready and support your child’s well-being. These programs include:
DC Healthy Start Project, which supports women before, during and after pregnancy by addressing their health and social service needs. The program strengthens family resilience through home visiting and engaging community partners to enhance systems of care. For information regarding the DC Healthy Start Project, please contact 1-800-MOM-BABY.
Early Head Start Home-Based programs are direct grantees of the federal Administration for Children and Families. Click here to learn more and access a provider.
All babies should be screened at birth for metabolic and hearing problems. Newborn screening is quick and easy. For more information about screening, visit the Newborn Screening website or call 1-800-MOM-BABY or 1-800-666-2229.
Safe Sleep Programs
Making sure that your baby sleeps in the right environment is one of the most important things you can do. Putting a baby to sleep face up in a crib reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), suffocation and roll over deaths due to bed sharing. Educational workshops on safe sleeping methods are available for DC residents and include a Pack n’ Play (portable crib) upon completion. If you would like more information on caring for newborns, visit the Safe Sleep Program website or call 1-800-MOM-BABY or 1-800-666-2229.
Health and Wellness
FitDC is a health and wellness initiative launched by Mayor Muriel Bowser to encourage residents in all 8 Wards to live a healthier lifestyle. For more information on previous Fit DC events and to register for upcoming Fit DC events, visit the Fit DC website.
Having health care coverage helps ensure that children and families receive routine, preventative and emergency care. In DC, children and families without health insurance who meet other eligibility requirements may be eligible for Medicaid, DC HealthyFamilies or DC Healthcare Alliance.
The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) offers a number of benefits at no cost to some pregnant women and new mothers. For more information and to enroll in WIC, visit the WIC website.
Take care of yourself and your baby by getting early and regular prenatal care and following your doctor’s advice. Regular prenatal care appointments with a doctor or midwife are important for maintaining the health of you and your baby during a pregnancy.
If you are pregnant or think you might be, call your doctor to schedule a visit. For additional resources on prenatal care, visit the Prenatal Care website.
Resources to Quit Smoking
The District of Columbia Quitline is an important resource, as smoking can have a wide-range of negative health affects for you and your child, including wheezing, coughing, and asthma attacks. If you are interested in getting help to stop smoking, please visit the Smoking Cessation website or contact the Quitline at 1 (800) QUIT NOW (784-8669).