Mayor, Health Department and Partners Celebrate Reduction of Infant Mortality Rate in Upton/Druid Heights Neighborhood Through Work of B’more for Healthy Babies

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Brandon M. Scott
Baltimore City
250 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-3835 - Fax: (410) 576-9425



BALTIMORE, MD (Tuesday, June 15, 2021) — Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, and community partners celebrated a record-low infant mortality rate for Black infants in the Upton/Druid Heights neighborhood. This outcome is directly tied to years of local investment, outreach, and education through the work of the B’more for Healthy Babies (BHB) program. 

The Mayor and Health Commissioner were joined for today's announcement by President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore Dr. Bruce Jarrell, Family League’s President and CEO Demaune Millard, CEO of Health Care Access Maryland Traci Kodeck, and representatives from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) and the University of Maryland School of Social Work Promise Heights Initiative. 

"It is no secret that there’s a significant racial disparity in infant mortality with Black babies, but these are more than just statistics," said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. "Thanks to the incredible work of B’more for Healthy Babies and our community partners, Baltimore babies have a better chance of growing up and reaching their their full potential." 

Like many jurisdictions across the nation, Baltimore is challenged by significant racial disparities in infant mortality between Black and white babies, with Black babies typically dying between two to five times the rate of white babies.

In 2009, when B’more for Healthy Babies launched, the Upton/Druid Heights neighborhood had a higher rate of infant mortality than the city overall, at 15.0 deaths per 1,000 live births. This neighborhood is home to 10,342 Baltimore residents, 94.3 percent of whom are Black

After 10 years of sustained investment in Upton/Druid Heights, the infant mortality rate has dropped by 75% to 3.8 deaths per 1,000 live births. This rate is comparable to Baltimore's overall white infant mortality rate (4.4 in 2019), and is well below Maryland’s overall rate (5.9 in 2019) and the United States rate (5.6 in 2019) — comparable to Baltimore communities that are far more wealthy and affected far less negatively by social determinants of health.

“Our celebration of the record low Black infant mortality rate in Upton/Druid Heights is a testament to the power of collaboration and sustained community investment,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Letitia Dzirasa. “I’d like to thank our staff, our partners, and the parents involved with our programs. B’more for Healthy Babies reminds us that public health interventions work, and can improve health outcomes for all of our communities.” 

The extensive work of B'more for Healthy Babies in the Upton/Druid Heights involves community organizing of partners and residents by health workers from the community. BHB performs extensive outreach to promote access to prenatal care and primary care services, providing education to local organizations, schools, businesses, and pregnant and parenting people. BHB also engages in group-based programming; leading Moms Clubs for both prenatal education and postpartum support, breastfeeding support groups; parenting classes case management of pregnant and parenting people; care coordination and linkage to services; and extensive use of BHB communication campaigns and materials. B'more for Healthy Babies also leads father engagement activities, spearheading a unique partnership with area barber shops including Cut Styles, and leading opportunities for educating parents about safe sleep. 

“As an anchor institution, the University of Maryland, Baltimore cares about our neighbors and the conditions that influence health outcomes from education and economic development, to the environment, and beyond,” said Dr. Bruce Jarrell, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore. “We are celebrating alongside our neighbors as the Upton/Druid Heights neighborhood now has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the country. I applaud the work of the BHB partnership and hope that others are equally inspired by the impressive change that happens when we work together as a community.”

B’more for Healthy Babies is supported by funding from Carefirst Blue Cross, BlueShield, the Baltimore City Health Department, Family League of Baltimore City, the University of Maryland School of Social Work Promise Heights Initiative, Health Care Access Maryland, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. 

"CareFirst celebrates the Baltimore City Health Department, the Family League of Baltimore, and the hundreds of partners and parents who contributed to a dramatic improvement in birth outcomes,” said Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, Vice President of Community Health and Social Impact, CareFirst. “As a not-for-profit healthcare insurer, leading employer and champion for health equity, CareFirst is proud to make significant investments in B’more for Healthy Babies, and data-driven public-private partnerships like it, that help resolve long standing racial inequities in infant and maternal mortality. The impressive impact achieved by this initiative should serve as a model locally, regionally, and nationally for the power of collaboration and community engagement to achieve sustainable, transformative improvements in community health.”

"As the local management board for the City, supporting equitable health outcomes for the children, youth, and families is a core value for Family League of Baltimore," said the organization's President and CEO Demaune Millard. "That all starts with providing supports and resources geared toward improving birthing outcomes for our most vulnerable and inequitably resourced communities. So far in Fiscal Year 2021, Family League has supported more than 30 families in Upton/Druid Heights neighborhood through the Healthy Family America (HFA) Home Visiting initiative and have worked with those home visitors to ensure continuity of care even in the midst of the pandemic. While we recognize there is still work to do, Family League looks forward to continued alignment with the BHB strategy and applauds Promise Heights for taking community-centered approaches to making advancements toward our goal of a serious and sustained decrease in infant fatalities in Baltimore City."

“HealthCare Access Maryland is honored to be a part of the B’more for Healthy Babies initiative,'' said CEO of Health Care Access Maryland Traci Kodeck. “We are dedicated to improving birth outcomes across Baltimore. We are so proud of the work that Upton/Druid Heights has accomplished and we look forward to replicating this model across other communities.”

“On behalf of the staff and leadership team of B’more for Healthy Babies at Promise Heights, University of Maryland, Baltimore, we are delighted to share the news of the significant reduction of the infant mortality in the communities of Upton and Druid Heights to 3.8/1000 live births,” said Stacey Stephens, Director of the B’more for Healthy Babies at Promise Heights. “The 75% decline in this rate over the past ten years reflects the commitment and work that we have done collaboratively to ensure that all babies born in these communities are healthy, of a good weight, and live beyond their first birthday. Thank you for partnering with us to create this incredible improvement in family and community health.”

​More information about BHB can be found at Supporting partners and agencies for the B’more for Healthy Babies program include; the Association of American Medical Colleges,  Baltimore City Community College, Booker T. Washington Middle School , Cutting Edge Barbershop, Cut Styles Barbershop, Druid Hill YMCA,  Dru-Mondawmin Healthy Families, Esquire Barbershop, Frederick Douglass High School,  Furman L Templeton Academy,  Illusions Barbershop, Judy Centers, Leonard E. Hicks Childcare Center,  Leonard E. Hicks Community Center, Pedestal Gardens, Pennsylvania Avenue AME Zion Church, Pennsylvania Avenue Enoch Pratt Free Library, Renaissance Academy, Robert C Marshall Recreation Center, St. James Episcopal Church, Total Healthcare IncUnion Baptist Head Start, University of Maryland Dental School, University of Maryland Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Maryland Medical Center , University of Maryland Midtown Campus, University of Maryland School of Nursing and the University of Maryland Women’s Center.

Related Stories

Mayor Scott, Rec & Parks Unveil Upgraded Greenspace and New Park Name at Former Northwest Baltimore Academy

Mayor Scott, Baltimore City Recreation & Parks (BCRP), City and State officials, and community members, including representatives from the Baltimore Ravens and the Baltimore Terps Youth Sports program, unveiled a new name for an upgraded greenspace at a former Northwest Baltimore school and police training facility.


Mayor Scott, DHCD Announces Effort to Establish City's First-Ever "Comprehensive Housing Plan"

Mayor Brandon M. Scott announced that the City of Baltimore is working to craft the City's first-ever Comprehensive Housing Plan, an effort led by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).


City of Baltimore Highlights Statewide Expansion of Maryland's Medicaid Supportive Housing Waiver

Mayor Brandon M. Scott, representatives from State and City agencies, local nonprofits, and Baltimore hospitals gathered at Baltimore City Hall to highlight the statewide expansion of FY 2025 funding for the Assistance in Community Integration Services (ACIS) pilot.