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Local News

Underwood bill aims to combat infant mortality

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood
U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, helped introduce bipartisan legislation to combat infant mortality by investing in the Healthy Start for Infants Program.

The Healthy Start Reauthorization Act of 2018 reauthorizes appropriations for this program for five years at $135 million annually, according to a news release. In 2019, the program provided nearly $5 million to Illinois programs to help reduce infant mortality.

“The care we provide for infants is a direct reflection of who we are as a country,” Underwood said in the release. “The bipartisan Healthy Start Reauthorization Act ... a statement of our values: Every baby in this country is worth our protection, investment and care.”

For every 1,000 live births in the U.S., nearly six babies do not live until their first birthday, according to the release. The Centers for Disease Control found that one in 10 babies is born premature, the leading cause of infant death.

Underwood introduced the bill with three other representatives: Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio; and Steve Stivers, R-Ohio.

The Healthy Start Program was established in 1991 to improve birth outcomes in communities with high rates of infant mortality and other complications. Infant mortality rates in Healthy Start programs are lower than the national average.

Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Richard Burr, R-North Carolina; Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan; and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

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