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September is National Infant Mortality Awareness month. Infant mortality is the death of a baby before his or her first birthday and has tragic implications for the affected family and friends.

Although the black infant mortality rate in Boston decreased by 36% from 2006-2015, inequities in rates between white and black infants continue to exist. This is also true for Latino infants. In Boston, black and Latino infants die at more than 2 times the rate of white infants.

Health inequities are differences in health outcomes that are avoidable, unfair, and unjust, and are a result of differences in opportunity and treatment. When these differences occur because of someone's race or ethnicity, they are called racial inequities. Racial inequities exist not only in infant mortality, but also low birthweight (when infants are born weighing less than 5 pounds 8 ounces) and preterm births (when infants are born before 37 completed weeks of gestation). Both low birthweight and prematurity are risk factors for infant mortality, and can lead to lifelong health and developmental problems.

While progress has been made in Boston, there is still more work to be done to make sure all babies, regardless of their race or ethnicity, have a healthy start.​

Below is a graph that shows infant mortality rate in Boston by race and ethnicity from 2006 to 2015. 

infant mortality graph 

* Statistically significant change over time

 NOTE: Hollowed-out symbols represent rates based on 20​ or fewer cases and should be interpreted with caution. Rates are not presented due to a small number of cases for Asian infants for 2006-2008, 2010, and 2012-2015. Beginning in October 2014, the method for collecting race/ethnicity for mortality data changed. Interpret trends with caution.

DATA SOURCE: Massachusetts linked infant birth-infant death file (death cohort), Massachusetts Department of Public Health (data as of February 2017). Data may be updated as more information becomes available.​


  • Get involved with the Community Action Network (CAN)​, an active  partnership of community members, policy makers, health care and service providers, and others that works together to increase community awareness and change policies to help give all babies an equal chance for a healthy start. 
  • CAN is an opportunity to network, make a positive impact, take on leadership roles, participate in advocacy activities, gain and practice new skills, and much more! 
  • Add your name to the form below and we will contact you to provide you with more information on the many ways you can get involved. Providing your information does not commit you to anything and we will not share your contact information.
  • Learn more about the available programs and services available for women, children and families by clicking links to the programs below.
  • Follow us on our Facebook (Boston Public Health Commission) and Twitter (@HealthyBoston) accounts! In the month of September, we will be sharing campaign messages about Infant Mortality Awareness Month and CAN. We encourage you to like, comment on, share, and retweet our posts to help spread awareness in your communities!  

Click on the blue banner below to sign up to learn more about the CAN!

  (Services available in multiple languages)​

Boston Healthy Start Initiative 

BHSI is a free and voluntary program open to women living in Boston who are pregnant or parenting children up to the age of 2 and identify as Black or Latina. Women who enroll in BHSI have the opportunity to work one on one with staff called 'Family Partners' who support them to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.   ​

Father Friendly Initiative 

Father Friendly is a free program that provides individualized case management services and educational group sessions that promote father involvement and family engagement.

Healthy Baby Healthy Child 

Healthy Baby Healthy Child is a free home visiting program for pregnant and parenting families with a child under the age of 5 residing in Boston.

Healthy Start in Housing 

Healthy Start in Housing is a program that helps housing insecure, high risk pregnant and/or parenting families with a child under the age of 5 who has a complex condition requiring specialty care, to secure and retain housing.

Welcome Family 

Welcome Family is a free one-time visit available to new mothers and her newborn. ​​

*CAN is supported through the Boston Healthy Start Initiative which is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Boston Public Health Commission.​​​

Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: