CALL FOR ABSTRACTS — APHA 2021 Annual Meeting and Expo

Maternal and Child Health

Meeting theme: "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness"

Submission Deadline: Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Maternal and Child Health Section is interested in receiving abstracts pertaining to research, evaluation, evidence-based programs, and policies in the following areas, several with specific priorities given to this year's conference theme "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connection."

  • Adolescent & Young Adult Health Submissions
    • The Adolescent and Young Adult Health Committee believes creating the healthiest nation requires helping our adolescents and young adults grow into the next generation of change agents in their communities. Our committee invites abstracts highlighting the abilities of young people to engage with and change their built and social environments to impact health and strive towards optimal well-being. In addition, we are interested in:
    • Approaches to youth health promotion and social connectedness that are asset/strengths-based or informed by Positive Youth Development; 
    • Collaborations with youth and young adults in high school, college, out-of-school, and underserved populations (e.g., foster care, youth experiencing homelessness and/or attempting to flee unsafe home environments) to promote health equity and/or social justice policies or practices;
    • Youth addressing social justice concerns around key health equity areas (e.g., institutional racism, climate change, environmental justice, food access and insecurity, mental health and well-being);
    • High-school-to-college health career pipelines and programs to increase the number of historically underrepresented populations of students in public health and related health professions;  
    • Youth-centered approaches for immigration, refugee/asylum, and migration issues;
    • Youth involved in public health policy development, oversight, and assurance (e.g., program, organizational, and governmental policy and/or governance/leadership).


    Successful submissions must demonstrate how adolescents and/or young adults were engaged in developing the research, policies, or practices in a way that also supported their training and growth. Preference will be given to submissions that also list youth/young adults as authors and/or speakers.

  • Breastfeeding
    We are seeking abstracts in the following areas: Human Milk Expression and Sustained Breastfeeding The Intersection of Corporate Practices and Breastfeeding From Bench to Population Health: Implications for Breastfeeding Research Pharmaceutical Drug Use and Breastfeeding The Role of Social Media and Sustained Breastfeeding Policies, Interventions, and Practices that support (or inhibit) the right to breastfeed Human Milk Expression and Sustained Breastfeeding We welcome abstracts that examine human milk expression and pumping in the context of sustained breastfeeding. Issues of interest include but are not limited to: • whether pumping impacts breastfeeding duration, • the role of hand expression and/or mechanical expression in the early postpartum period impacts duration, • whether expression/pumping has an impact on work-place culture/practice vis-à-vis breastfeeding. The Intersection of Corporate Practices and Breastfeeding We are interested in abstracts that explore the intersections of corporate and/or business practice with breastfeeding. This topic area can include: • Support in the workplace for sustained breastfeeding; • The role of corporate entities on shaping the discourse around infant feeding; • Current status of adherence to the WHO Code of Marketing and the impact on breastfeeding From Bench to Population Health Emerging research is demonstrating the connection between the biological components of human milk and population health outcomes. To this end, we are actively soliciting abstracts in the following areas: • Physiological mechanisms linking breastfeeding to maternal and infant health, with implications for population health. • Human milk composition and connections to infant health and development, with implications for population health. • The impact of human milk (versus artificial milk) on the infant microbiome, with implications for population health. We ask that authors be sure to draw connections between bench science and population health. Prescription/Non-Prescription Drug Use and Breastfeeding The Breastfeeding Forum is soliciting research on the impact of prescription / non-prescription drugs on lactation with implications for public health practice. Some areas that will receive preference include: • Breastfeeding and persons who use drugs • Prescription pharmaceuticals and breastfeeding We welcome research that has implications for public health practice. Social Media and Breastfeeding We are calling for abstracts that look at the intersection of social media with breastfeeding. Some areas we would like to learn about include: • experiences with using social media as a means to support breastfeeding, • the role social media may play in shaping attitudes towards infant feeding. Policies, Interventions and Practices that support (or inhibit) the right to breastfeed We welcome abstracts that describe researcher / community partnerships to support the right to breastfeed among marginalized populations. We also welcome abstracts that discuss intervention / policy strategies that support breastfeeding as a right. Policies/Interventions which demonstrably reduce INEQUITIES in breastfeeding are especially encouraged. It is not sufficient to show that the police improved breastfeeding, abstracts must demonstrate that the strategy reduced inequities (i.e., did the intervention close the gap?). Abstracts that discuss the legal issues surrounding breastfeeding as a right are also encouraged. Populations we are particularly interested in – from a rights and equity perspective – include • LGBTQ* identified individuals, • Indigenous peoples of North America and the Hawaiian Islands, • Rural / remote populations, • Immigrant populations, • Teen mothers • Other visible minorities. Preference will be given to those abstracts that discuss breastfeeding duration – not merely initiation. As well, abstract authors are strongly encouraged to conduct a literature search to ensure that their submission makes a novel contribution to the field of breastfeeding research; it must be clear to reviewers that the submitted abstract makes a unique and innovative contribution to the science of breastfeeding.
  • Child Care Submissions
    The MCH Child Care Committee is seeking abstracts that promote the conference theme, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness”, with an emphasis on health and safety as a key component of quality child care. Specific topics include but are not limited to: COVID-19, infectious disease prevention, environmental health, trauma informed care, childhood obesity, water safety, adverse childhood events, mental health, staff health, emergency preparedness, and child care health consultation.
  • Children with Special Health Care Needs Submissions
    The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Section Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) Committee invites abstracts on surveillance, epidemiology, evaluation, research, public health practice, programs and policy on children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) and their families Content on population-based studies, global/domestic health, right to health care, social determinants of health (including early care and K-12 education),identification and referral, early intervention, care coordination, integrated systems of care (e.g., mental health, social-connectedness/social media, pediatric care), genetic testing, access to care in urban and rural communities (including telehealth), quality of life, outcomes, service delivery and quality, workforce, diversity, equality and inclusion, intersectionality, respite care, and/or transition to adulthood will also be considered.
  • Epidemiology and Data Submissions
    Data are essential to evaluate and inform programs and policies to promote health and wellness. The Data and Epidemiology Committee is interested in abstracts describing: • use of surveillance and/or program data to describe maternal and child health (MCH) outcomes • epidemiologic research in the MCH field • evidence-based evaluations of programs and policies targeting MCH populations • application of MCH data across various settings, i.e., community-based, state, national, and international settings Abstract submissions related to longitudinal or multilevel modeling, the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods, and data translation and application for public health action in MCH are also welcome.
  • Genetics and Bioethics Submissions
    As genomic advances play an increasing role in maternal, newborn, and child health services, it is vital that new technologies and current findings in this area are shared with the MCH community. The MCH Section is interested in receiving papers that address the individual and community perspectives related to emerging preconception, prenatal and neonatal screening as well as novel detection, diagnostic and treatment options for early childhood conditions. We also value research investigating the ethical questions raised by these advances and strategies to improve equity of care and population-wide health improvement.
  • Health Services Research Submissions
    The primary goal of MCH Health services research (HSR) is to ensure that all women and children have access to and receive the best possible health care. MCH health services researchers are at the forefront of work to identify the most effective ways to deliver high quality health care, reduce medical errors, and improve patient safety for all women throughout their reproductive lives and children from conception to adulthood. The MCH-HSR Section seeks studies on how social factors, personal behaviors, organizational factors, and health policies and health system change affect access to health care, quality of and cost of healthcare, patient safety and ultimately the health and well-being of women, families and children.
  • Improving Pregnancy Outcomes
    Healthy pregnancies, mothers, children, and families are a global concern. From the life course perspective, the health of a newborn is determined, in part, by the life experiences of the baby's mother prior to and during pregnancy. The mother's own in utero experience, together with the cultural, political, environmental, medical, and psychosocial factors that have affected her health status over time (e.g., access to nutritious food, air & water quality, access to health care and healthy environments, access to education and jobs, social support, daily stressors and traumatic events, etc.), can affect her health and the health of her unborn child. The Improving Pregnancy Outcomes Committee is interested in research, policy, interventions and public health initiatives that take a holistic approach to understanding and promoting healthy pregnancy outcomes, with particular emphasis on biological, psychological, social, and/or physical/environmental factors. 
The 2021 conference theme is Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness, so abstracts that feature the role of social connectedness (or, conversely, social isolation/exclusion), broadly defined and spanning micro (e.g., social support), mezzo (e.g., community engagement), macro levels (e.g., policies that promote equity), in improving pregnancy outcomes are of particular interest to the committee.  Besides this, the Committee also welcomes abstracts that more generally relate to improving pregnancy outcomes, such as: maternal health/mental/behavioral health, social disparities in/social determinants of adverse pregnancy outcomes, physical and built environment factors, diversity in/cultural competence of the MCH workforce, innovative programs and policies, faith-based initiatives, life course/development/intergenerational considerations, pre- and inter- conception health and postpartum care, etc.  We also welcome abstract submissions on cutting-edge research, policy initiatives, and interventions that may not directly relate to the conference theme, but nevertheless address 21st century opportunities and challenges to promoting healthy pregnancy outcomes.
  • Infant and Child Health Submissions
    In keeping with the annual APHA meeting theme, abstracts are sought that pertain to ensuring the right to health for infants and children. Research that examines the effects of interventions and policies at the level of the individual family, the neighborhood, and the larger community to promote children’s health, development and well-being is of particular interest. More generally, the committee also welcomes abstracts on central themes related to infant and child health and health equity including but not limited to preconception health and health care, preterm birth, infant and child morbidity and mortality, fetal alcohol syndrome, birth defects research and surveillance, emerging threats to mothers and babies, neonatal abstinence syndrome, newborn hearing and metabolic screening, developmental screening, autism and developmental disabilities, neurobehavioral and mental health, parenting, and child development.
  • Innovations in Maternity Services Submissions
    The theme of the 2021 APHA Annual Meeting is "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness." The everyday problems facing childbearing families are made worse by the lack of access to care and concerns about quality care and providers and respectful services. Childbearing families in the United States face a climate of structural inequalities that constrain care access, personal choice and options, and positive health outcomes. For this year's program, the Innovations in Maternity Services committee is seeking papers on the Innovations and Inequities in Maternity Care. The focus will be on addressing issues in access to care for communities of color, low-income families, urban and rural residents, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, and other marginalized populations. The focus is on positive programs which address these issues and create a climate of change and innovation. The committee welcomes research and descriptions of programs or policies that advance innovations in care access and promote perinatal health equity as well as culturally specific maternity care, including: midwives, community health workers, doulas, outreach clinics, insurance strategies, interprofessional collaboration, home birth, birth centers, and community-based care alliances and preserving “normal birth”. One of the goals of this committee is to educate and empower childbearing families to make their own choices, which will ultimately lead to better outcomes in childbirth. Current research or descriptions of programs/policies, which address these issues on the local, state or nation levels, are encouraged.
  • Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Interpersonal and Community Violence Prevention
    Preventing interpersonal and community violence is essential to the promotion of wellness across the lifespan. Many disciplines contribute critical knowledge and perspectives to violence prevention and intervention efforts using theory, data, interventions, evaluation approaches, and policy development. By exploring these various efforts, we can better prevent all forms of interpersonal violence across the lifespan, including child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence,  sexual violence, dating violence, elder mistreatment, dating violence, technology-facilitated violence, and sibling abuse. Community violence prevention programs of many kinds are also critical. Submissions in any of these areas are of interest. Submissions exploring primary prevention programs are of particular interest, especially those that address shared risk and protective factors for multiple forms of violence.
  • International MCH Submissions
    Submissions that address new approaches to global maternal and child health issues are always welcome. Special consideration will be given to submissions addressing global maternal and child health from a life span approach - acknowledging the importance of health at all ages from birth through old age, and the effects of early events on later health. Child and adolescent health issues using a developmental approach and broader issues of women’s health as well as domestic violence and reproductive issues are encouraged. Abstracts considering post-MDG priorities for MCH will also be welcomed since MCH goals are the MDGs least likely to be met.
  • MCH Multi-Level Life Course Submissions
    Health is the result of multiple interacting determinants, including genetic, biological, behavioral, social, economic, environmental, and political contexts. The timing and accumulation of these multilevel exposures and experiences across the life course influence the development of health and disease. Evidence has established strong links between childhood exposures (i.e., the period from conception through adolescence) and child, adolescent and adult health. This knowledge places a high priority on understanding how context influences health over the life course and how interventions can be used to promote health and mitigate adversity. Abstracts focused on an examination of MCH issues using a multi-level determinants and/or life-course approach are invited to submit an abstract.
  • Paternal Involvement in Pregnancy Outcomes
    • Despite the fact that men are important to the health of children and families, men have not played a significant role in maternal and child health initiatives. A large body of research exists on a father’s influence on child health and development, but little is known regarding the role of the expectant father in MCH. There is a great need to develop evidence-based strategies to improve paternal involvement before, during, and between pregnancies, particularly in communities where paternal involvement has traditionally been low and pregnancy outcomes have been poor. Abstracts related to this year’s conference theme might include:

    • Family planning and reproductive health initiatives targeted to males;
    • Best and promising practices to enhance paternal involvement in MCH;
    • Barriers to paternal involvement in research, policy and practice;
    • Preconception health and care programs specific to males;
    • Innovative approaches to clinical practice on paternal involvement in pregnancy;
    • A lifecourse perspective of paternal involvement in MCH;
    • Strategies to raise public awareness for the need to include men in MCH initiatives.
  • Perinatal & Women's Health
    A lifespan approach to women's health implies that the health of women is informed by biological, social, and environmental exposures throughout life. Of interest is all women's health and reproductive health issues, with topics that emphasize both positive and negative lifecourse exposures and outcomes including: genetics; fetal, infant, and child exposures; health-promoting and health-compromising behaviors; STIs/HIV; abortion; contraceptive use, including long-acting reversible contraception; unintended pregnancy; stress and mental health; other acute and chronic health conditions; environmental exposures (e.g., neighborhood quality); conflict (e.g., interpersonal violence, deployment and warfare, natural disasters); health care services (access, utilization, coverage); and healthy aging. Of particular interest are abstracts that focus on the impact that health equity plays in the elimination of health disparities as they pertain to perinatal and women's health issues and outcomes.

    Lastly, abstracts addressing the following themes are encouraged: (1) System-level impacts on maternal and infant morbidity/mortality (e.g., racism; environmental exposures); (2) Women’s preventive health services (e.g., vaccinations; well-women visits, the utilization of doulas in the perinatal and postpartum periods); (3) Health care access and quality (e.g., health equity; quality improvement; maternity deserts, maternal safety bundles;) and patient-provider interactions/communications (e.g., shared decision-making); (4) Health literacy across the system (individual, organizational, policy); (5) Dissemination and implementation research and practice (e.g., translating evidence/guidelines to providers/consumer); and (6) Violence against women (intimate partner, workplace, sexual and verbal violence). (6) The impact of COVID-19 on the lives of women’s physical, mental, and emotional health.

  • Policy & Finance in MCH
    Innovative efforts advance research, program, and policy development. Submissions for this topic area are expected to describe (and provide evidence for, where available) innovations within the field that could have important implications for maternal and/or child health. Collaborative submissions are encouraged but not required. Submissions should incorporate important elements of the research project, program or policy of interest, identify ways in which the effort is innovative in the field at this time, and note the potential significance of the effort if successfully conducted.
  • Student Session
    The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Section, in collaboration with the Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health (ATMCH), seek student papers on a variety of topics (e.g., children with special healthcare needs, breastfeeding, care coordination, social determinants of health, and prematurity) related to MCH research, evaluation, epidemiology, surveillance, evidence-based, population-based, global and domestic health, violence prevention, public health practice, policy, programs, social connectedness, and diversity, equality, and inclusion. The top papers will be presented in the Greg Alexander Outstanding Student Papers session on Monday morning. These top student authors will be honored at the APHA annual meeting. Accepted papers not selected for this special session may be included in a student poster session or, as appropriate, in other sessions. Submissions should conform to the required APHA structure. First authors must be APHA student members who are working towards a degree at the time of abstract submission. Advisors and other students may be listed as co-authors; however, the first author is expected to do the majority of the writing and analysis and present at the APHA annual meeting. A partial stipend for the first author may be available, contingent on funding availability.
  • GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS: Presentations using quantitative and/or qualitative methods are welcome. If you are interested in submitting a group of papers to be presented in a single session please contact the MCH Section Program Planners in advance.

    Please read the dos and don’ts below. We received over 450 abstracts for the 2020 program; approximately 30% were accepted for oral presentation and another 30% were accommodated in poster sessions. Our cut off for inclusion into an oral session is an average rating of 35 or higher. Abstracts with lower scores are either waitlisted or placed in a poster session. Waitlisted abstracts are accommodated if there are openings due to withdrawals (most commonly from poster sessions). Final decisions about waitlisted abstracts are made by early August. Please note that the MARCH 21, 2021 abstract submission deadline will NOT be extended. No new abstracts will be accepted after that date. Late submissions or FAX submissions will not be accepted.


    • All presenters must be Individual members of APHA in order to present;
    • You need not be a member at the time of submission but if accepted the presenter must be an APHA member;
    • All presenters must register for the meeting
    • Abstracts cannot be presented or published in any journal prior to the APHA Annual Meeting

    It is strongly recommended that you have a commitment of funding to attend the meeting should your abstract be accepted.

    NOTE ABOUT CONTACT INFORMATION: Because your contact information is discoverable (and remains in the APHA system for years into the future) we strongly recommend using employer or school contact information rather than your personal/home address.

    • Start early! You can start your submission before you have the entire abstract completed.
    • Proofread!
    • Recommended format: Background, Methods, Results, Conclusions (be sure to include results). Abstracts describing studies waiting to be conducted or not yet completed are scored lower as many times the work is not complete by the time of the meeting and someone else could have had your slot.
    • Only a 250 word abstract is required -Make clear the public heath significance or implications of your work (and its relevance to MCH)
    • Include your data – abstracts lacking data receive lower ratings

    • An abstract free of trade and/or commercial product names;
    • At least one MEASURABLE objective (“to understand” or “to learn” are not measurable objectives and compound objectives are not acceptable). Use ONLY the following Measurable Action Verbs: Explain, Demonstrate, Analyze, Formulate, Discuss, Compare, Differentiate, Describe, Name, Assess, Evaluate, Identify, Design, Define or List.
    • A signed Conflict of Interest (Disclosure) form with a relevant Biographical Qualification Statement. BE SPECIFIC about how your experience and/or education qualify you to speak on your proposed topic. Just saying that you are an expert in the field is NOT adequate. Example of acceptable biographical qualification statement: “I have been the principal or co-principal of multiple federally funded grants focusing on the epidemiology of drug abuse, HIV prevention and co-occurring mental and drug use disorders. Among my scientific interests has been the development of strategies for preventing HIV and STDs in out-of-treatment drug users.”
    • A list of over 30 areas will be provided online for you to choose from. You will be asked to choose at least one or up to 6 areas that your presentation will address.
    Abstracts are judged on clarity of presentation, importance/originality, understanding and presentation of implications of findings, quality and description of subject matter including problem statement or hypothesis, quality and completeness of supporting data/philosophy, clarity and interest of presentation, methodology and contribution to the field of MCH. The highest rated abstracts, based on blinded peer review, are selected and placed in sessions according to the overall program plan for that year. Abstracts that include data based on completion of the study or project will have priority.

    Continuing Education Credit

    APHA values the ability to provide continuing education credit to physicians, nurses, health educators, veterinarians, and those certified in public health at its annual meeting. Please complete all required information when submitting an abstract so members can claim credit for attending your session. These credits are necessary for members to keep their licenses and credentials.

     For a session to be eligible for Continuing Education Credit, each presenter must provide:

     An abstract free of trade and/or commercial product names

    • At least one MEASURABLE outcomes (DO NOT USE “To understand” or “To learn” as objectives, they are not measureable). Examples of Acceptable Measurable Action Words:  Explain, Demonstrate, Analyze, Formulate, Discuss, Compare, Differentiate, Describe, Name, Assess, Evaluate, Identify, Design, Define or List.
    • A signed Conflict of Interest (Disclosure) form with a relevant Qualification Statement. See an example of an acceptable Qualification Statement on the online Disclosure form.

    Contact Mighty Fine at if you have any questions concerning continuing education credit. Please contact the program planner for all other questions.


    Program Planner Contact Information:

    Kimberly Arcoleo


    Lesley Cottrell