Congressman Cohen Introduces NEWBORN Act

January 4, 2021
Press Release
Addresses the nation’s unacceptably high infant-mortality rate

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today introduced the Nationally Enhancing the Wellbeing of Babies through Outreach and Research Now (NEWBORN) Act to help address America’s unacceptably high infant mortality rate with concrete solutions.  If enacted, the bill would create infant mortality-focused pilot programs in the highest-risk areas of the country to help those most in need address this devastating crisis.


Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

“Memphis continues to have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. Although we have made some progress over the years, we must do more to help mothers and their children in Memphis. This includes ensuring that pregnant mothers have the resources they need to deliver healthy babies and the tools to raise them to become healthy adults. Passing the NEWBORN Act will be a good first step.”

In Tennessee, and particularly in Shelby County, the infant mortality rate is significantly higher than the national average. In the United States, more children die before their first birthdays than in 19 other wealthy countries. The U.S. rate per capita is higher than Cuba, Canada, Greece, Italy, Portugal or France.

The NEWBORN Act pilot programs would be designed to educate at-risk and potential mothers about pregnancy and prenatal care. This legislation will help create a better understanding of the causes of infant mortality and best practices for preventing it.

Grant funding would go toward addressing one or more of the top five reasons for infant mortality including (1) birth defects, (2) preterm birth and low birth weight, (3) sudden infant death syndrome, (4) maternal pregnancy complications, and/or (5) injuries to the infant.

Congressman Cohen has previously introduced the NEWBORN Act in earlier Congresses, and last session garnered a record number of cosponsors. Today’s measure is being introduced on the second day of the 117th Congress to call attention to its importance.

Congressman Cohen, a founding member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, has been a leader on infant mortality issues since his years in the state Senate. In August 2018, Congressman Cohen hosted a symposium on infant and maternal mortality at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, bringing together a panel of medical and social services experts from across the Mid-South region focused on the needs of mothers in Memphis, the barriers to improving maternal health care, reducing infant mortality and resources available in Shelby County.