The cornerstone of the Foundation community outreach activities was the First Step Campaign, an award-winning, multi-faceted program that promoted the importance of healthy lifestyles before, during and after pregnancy. It was the basis for our current Women’s Health Program.


  • In North Carolina, the leading causes of infant death were linked directly to the mother’s health, and include:
    • Preterm birth (baby born before 37 weeks gestation)
    • Low birthweight (baby born less than 2,500 grams or 5 lbs, 8 oz.)
    • Birth defects/congenital anomalies
    • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
    • Respiratory conditions
  • Reductions in the state’s infant mortality rate will likely result from positive lifestyle and behavior modifications, including proper nutrition, prenatal care, reduction of stress and smoking cessation.


To improve the health of mothers and babies, and to reduce infant death, disease, and disability in North Carolina by increasing public understanding and awareness of factors that contribute to infant mortality and morbidity. Specifically, the program aimed to:

  • Increase public awareness of infant mortality in North Carolina
  • Promote the importance of healthy living, before, during and after pregnancy
  • Link target audiences to available resources
  • Engage health and social service professionals and their organizations, coalitions, businesses, community groups, religious communities, and state and local leaders

Campaign Activities

  • First Step was comprised of health campaigns that addressed the complexities of infant mortality and morbidity – the Minority Infant Mortality Reduction Campaign and the N.C. Back to Sleep Campaign for SIDS Risk Reduction (now known as N.C. Infant Sleep Safety.)
  • Messages were communicated through the development and distribution of educational materials focused on pregnancy and prenatal issues.
  • Campaign topic areas were identified by the N.C. Division of Public Health, Women’s and Children’s Health Section, review of published research findings, and statistical information collected by the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics.
  • Materials were distributed free of charge via the Foundation website, mass-mailings, professional exhibiting and conference opportunities as well as response to catalog orders.