Maternal and child health indicators are a key component of the new Healthy People 2020 initiative, which sets 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.
The 2020 objectives were launched on December 2, 2011, along with the Healthy People 2010 Final Review.
An assessment of the Healthy People 2010 initiative showed that the country met or was moving toward meeting 71 percent of the targets, while also revealing shortcoming in critical areas like reducing health disparities and the obesity rate
Healthy People 2020 is based on the 2010 initiative and three others, and consists of 42 topic areas with nearly 600 objectives and 1,200 measures. Twelve high-priority topic areas, called Leading Health Indicators, were chosen to allow policymakers and public health professionals to refine their focus and track progress.
One of the Leading Health Indicators is Maternal, Infant, and Child Health, which looks at the rates of infant deaths and preterm birth.The initiative focuses on this area in particular because the rate of preterm births has risen more than 20 percent from 1990 to 2006 and the 2011 infant death rate remains higher than the infant death rate in 46 other countries.
It is also recognized as a factor because the health of mothers and babies determines the health of the next generation and can help predict future public health challenges.
The other 11 topic areas include: access to health services; clinical preventive services; environmental quality; injury and violence; mental health; nutrition, physical activity and obesity; oral health; reproductive and sexual health; social determinants; substance abuse; and tobacco.
While planning the 2020 initiative, stakeholders were asked for input – which resulted in the addition of 13 new topics areas, including adolescent health and social determinants of health.