Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Protection Act (1921)
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In November 1921, US Congress passed the National Maternity and Infancy Protection Act, also called the Sheppard-Towner Act. The Act provided federal funds to states to establish programs to educate people about prenatal health and infant welfare. Advocates argued that it would curb the high infant mortality rate in the US. Many states accepted funding through the Sheppard-Towner Act, leading to the establishment of nearly 3,000 prenatal care clinics, 180,000 infant care seminars, over three million home visits by traveling nurses, and a national distribution of educational literature between 1921 and 1928. The Act provided funding for five years, but was repealed in 1929 after Congress did not renew it. Historians note that infant mortality did decrease during the years the Act was in effect. The Act also influenced provisions aimed at infant and maternity welfare in later legislation, such as the Social Security Act of 1935.