THE 1990 HEALTH Objectives for the Nation, published by the Public Health Service (PHS) in 1979, included 19 objectives related to pregnancy and infant health. PHS identified 13 of these as "priority objectives" for federal programs and activities. These objectives concern improving the health status, reducing risk factors, increasing public and professional awareness, and improving health services and protection for mothers and infants.
Despite numerous public and private efforts, current projections for 1990 indicate that the majority of objectives for improving health status and reducing risk factors for pregnant women and infants will not be met. The decline in the infant mortality rate (IMR) has slowed since the preceding decade, and no progress has been made in reducing low birth-weight (LBW)—less than 2,500 grams. Between 1970 and 1981, the IMR in the United States declined by nearly 5% per