sara josephine baker, obestrics, OBGYN, women's health, preventative medicine, women in medicine, historySome people choose their path from passion. Others choose it from necessity. For Dr. Sara Josephine Baker, it was a bit of both. She passionately focused on women’s health and preventive health care. Keep reading her incredible story.

The Legacy of Dr. Sara Josephine Baker

Dr. Baker was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1873. After her father and brother died of typhoid, Baker felt the pressure to support her mother and sister financially, so, at the age of 16, Baker decided on a career in medicine.

Upon receiving her M.D. from the Woman’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary in 1898, Dr. Baker opened a local private practice. The practice struggled to be profitable, so Baker accepted work for New York City as a medical inspector. Working with the poor in the ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ area, Baker became dedicated to providing preventative care. She knew that education about basic infant care, nutrition, and sanitation could save lives and health care resources.

As the Assistant Commissioner of Health for New York City in 1907, Dr. Baker initiated programs to provide residents with prenatal care, childcare classes, infant formula, baby clothes, vaccines, and milk. Her work with the poor mothers and children of New York City had a significant impact on maternal and child mortality rates and became a model for cities across the country.

In 1908, Dr. Sara Josephine Baker was appointed director of New York City’s Bureau of Child Hygiene, the first such bureau in the United States. She developed programs and implemented policies that benefitted New York and other states as well. Thirty-five states adopted her school health program. When Baker retired in 1923, New York City had the lowest infant mortality rate of any major American city.

Dr. Baker’s Writings

Dr. Sara Josephine Baker wrote 50 journal articles, more than 200 pieces for the press about issues in preventive medicine, and five books. Her legacy in women’s health and preventative medicine is renowned by scholars in the field worldwide.

Do you have questions about your health? Contact our wonderful staff at Creekside Center for Women to schedule an appointment. 479585.9268