Day 366

Traditionally, Junior League of St. Louis has focused its annual volunteer efforts on a project or event intended to help the lives of women and children in the greater St. Louis area. In 2016, we voted to adopt an issue area of infant mortality, and concentrate our time and energy on reducing the infant mortality rate in the greater St. Louis metro area through our Day 366 initiative.

Infant mortality is an issue we believe needs to be higher in our nation’s consciousness; most Americans are unaware that more babies die in the U.S. prior to their first birthdays than in any of the other 27 most wealthy nations in the world. Further, our infant mortality rate in Missouri is the 19th-worst in the U.S., with 6.6 babies dying in their first year of life per 1,000 babies born. In St. Louis metro, there are neighborhoods that more than double that state average, and have infant mortality rates comparable to countries like Uzbekistan and Vietnam.  Each day in the St. Louis metro area, five babies die before their first birthdays, 32 babies are born too small, and 46 babies are born too early. The greatest predictor of a baby dying before their first birthday is a pre-term birth; getting women access to quality pre-natal care is vital to improving our area’s infant mortality rate.