Our Purpose

Infant mortality is the death of an infant before his or her first birthday. Each year, the equivalent of eight classes of kindergarteners dies in Northeast Florida. Too many babies are also born too small and too soon — leading to infant death or lifelong health and developmental issues. 

Fetal Mortality

Fetal mortality, also known as stillbirth, is the death of a fetus before birth, following at least 20 weeks gestation. The fetal mortality rate for the region was 6.8 deaths per 1000 live births in 2017.  The fetal death rate for black and other nonwhite mothers is consistently higher than the white rate. In 2017, it was double: 4.8 deaths per 1000 live births for white babies, compared to 9.9 deaths for black and other nonwhite babies.


Babies born before 37 weeks gestation are considered pre-term. Premature, or pre-term, births account for almost 13 percent of all deliveries in the five-county region. Prematurity can lead to issues with the lungs, brain, liver and other core body functions that did not have enough time to mature in utero6. Very pre-term infants — those born before 32  weeks gestation — are at higher risk for death and disability. From 2014-2016, 18 percent of pre-term births in the region were considered very pre-term. All premature infants, including late pre-term, can encounter breathing and feeding issues, difficulties regulating body temperature, digestive/intestinal problems and jaundice, among other issues.

Many babies born premature are also born at a low birth weight — less than 5 lbs, 8 oz. In 2017, nearly one in 10 babies in Northeast Florida was born low birth weight, a rate that has steadily increased since 2013. The region tends to have a larger proportion of low birth weight births than the state. Low birthweight is a key indicator of a healthy start and quality of life. Risk factors that are linked to low birthweight include high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, drinking, opioid and substance abuse and exposure to air pollution or

Infant Mortality

The regional infant mortality rate has decreased 35 percent since the inception of Healthy Start and the regional coalitions in 1991, but in recent years the declines have largely leveled off. Each year, the equivalent of eight classes of kindergarteners is lost in Northeast Florida. The 2017 regional rate of 7.3 deaths per 1000 live births is significantly higher than both the state (6.1 deaths) and nation (5.8 deaths). Black babies die at 2.5 times the rate of white babies (12.5 deaths per 1000 live births, compared to 5.2 deaths). This trend has been consistent over the past five years, and despite improvements in the overall infant mortality rate, the disparity gap remains. National trends show that racial disparities persist despite education level or socioeconomic status.

Infant mortality disproportionately impacts communities with high rates of poverty, crime, drug use and other social determinants of health.

Most infant deaths occur within the first 28 days of life. Despite the availability of specialized technology, drugs and intensive medical care, a significant number of babies are unviable at birth and die within the first 24 hours. Many of these babies have congenital anomalies or are very premature or low birth weight.  

Babies who die between 28 and 364 days old comprise the remaining infant deaths. Many of these babies are otherwise healthy infants who suffer accidental death. 

One in five deaths was due to Sudden Unexpected Infants Deaths (SUIDs) in 2016, most of which were sleep-related. SUIDs declined significantly in the 1990s and 2000s in part due to new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the nationwide Back to Sleep campaign, but have steadily increased since 2012 (up 42 percent in Northeast Florida). These deaths are largely preventable, and are accounting for a larger proportion of infant deaths.  Bedsharing is a leading factor identified in sleep-related deaths.

What We Do

The organization’s commitment to collaboration and to addressing infant mortality within a broader community context provides the foundation for its planning and program development efforts. The Coalition’s work is centered around three key areas: saving babies, strengthening families and building communities.

Saving Babies

Too many babies continue to die from preventable causes and lack of access to health services. While more babies are living to see their first birthday, infant mortality is a sentinel indicator of the health of a community and can signify underlying issues that need to be addressed to ensure communities are healthy and thriving.

Services & Programs:
• Healthy Start
• MomCare
• The Azalea Project
• The Magnolia Project
• Nurse-Family Partnership
• Safe Sleep Task Force
• Substance-exposed Newborn Task Force

Key areas we’re working in:
• Preconception health care
• Safe sleep
• Fetal & infant death reviews (FIMR)
• Substance-exposed newborns

Strengthening Families

The health and well-being of families has a direct impact on infant mortality and birth outcomes. The Coalition provides services to: Help parents provide safe and stable environments for their children, help fathers connect with their children and encourage adolescents to focus on reproductive health.

Services & Programs:
• Fatherhood PRIDE
• Healthy Families Jacksonville
• BrdsNBz & XsNOs

Key areas we’re working in:
• Co-parenting
• Engaging dads
• Child abuse prevention
• Adolescent reproductive health

Building Communities

Infant mortality is a community problem — and it takes a community to solve it. The Coalition engages partners throughout the region to join in the effort to address the underlying societal & structural root causes of infant mortality and poor birth outcomes.

Services & Programs:
• National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps program
• Coordinated Intake & Referral
• Baby Buggy Walk in the Park awareness event
• Make a Difference! Leadership Academy
• Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives Pilot
• Health Equity Task Force

Key areas we’re working in:
• Social determinants of health
• Addressing racism
• Grassroots leadership
• Leveraging resources
• Advocacy
• Access to care