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AAHP's Maternal and Child Health focus area seeks to decrease the high rate of Black infant mortality and improve the likelihood of good pregnancy outcomes among Black women in Montgomery County, through the S.M.I.L.E. (Start More Infants Living Equally healthy) Program.

Infant mortality is defined as the death of an infant before the age of one year, per 1000 live births. A disproportionately high infant mortality rate exists in the African American population. African American women are more likely than Caucasian and Hispanic women to experience an infant loss in the first year of their child's life. They are also more likely to experience Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Maternal complications are more frequent during their pregnancy. According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in Montgomery County in 2010, the rate of infant deaths per 1000 live births was 4.3. The mortality rate for Caucasian infants was 3.3 and the rate for Hispanic infants was 3.7, but for African Americans, it was 7 – roughly double the rate of other groups. Factors such as stress, absence of prenatal care, teen pregnancy, advanced maternal age, substance abuse, cord/placental
complications, and history of premature births are said to drive the prevalence
of infant mortality among Black women.

S.M.I.L.E. provides the tools and support that aim to improve the likelihood of healthy birth outcomes. The program is administered by registered nurse case managers who are passionate, loyal, and highly committed to partnering with you from pregnancy to your baby’s first birthday. The care provided includes:

  • Childbirth and Breastfeeding Education classes.
  • Case management of mothers and infants, including home visits and telephone consultations.
  • Ongoing breastfeeding support after delivery.
  • Customized referrals to public and private community resources.
  • Support groups and networking opportunities.

For more information, please call 240.777.1833.

"When I became pregnant, I got involved with the African American Health Program's infant mortality focus area. AAHP gave me the chance to meet every week with a nurse, and we discussed everything I could do to make sure that Michael was born healthy. After Michael's birth, I still had weekly home meetings with my nurse. She answered all of my questions - about breast feeding, sleeping and all the things new mothers worry about. With AAHP, I feel like I am making the right choices - and I can see the results every day in Michael."