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Supporting Mothers & Babies

Generations of parents have turned to Johnson & Johnson because of its pioneering products and its science-based approached. While the company was founded to make the world’s first sterile surgical supplies, it soon expanded to meet the growing need for childbirth and infant care. Along with its cutting-edge products, Johnson & Johnson worked to educate its consumers, teaching them the importance of basic hygiene in theory and practice. At the heart of the company’s mission to improve public health was—and is—women and children.

An early company advertisement.

Image courtesy: Johnson & Johnson Archives

In 1894, when Johnson & Johnson launched its Maternity Kits, childbirth was incredibly dangerous. Most women gave birth at home. For every 1,000 live births, nine mothers died in labor and 100 infants would not survive their first birthday. To make delivery and the first days of life safer for mom and baby, Maternity Kits were equipped with antiseptic supplies, including sanitary pads, disinfectants, cotton gauze, and sterile surgical tape. In 1902, Johnson & Johnson began publishing a comprehensive pamphlet called Hygiene in Maternity, which offered detailed instructions on birth and infant care.

Contents of an early Maternity Kit.

Image courtesy: Johnson & Johnson Archives

An illustration from Hygiene in Maternity showing how to correctly hold a baby.

Image courtesy: Johnson & Johnson Archives

Johnson & Johnson continued to expand its baby care business in the early 20th century, manufacturing the world’s first disposable diapers in 1904. During the 1900s, Johnson & Johnson worked to improve the product based on new research and evolving consumer needs. By the 1930s, it released CHUX® Disposable Diapers, a more advanced diaper that closely resembles the ones of today. Especially after the United States entered World War II in 1941, when several million American women entered the workforce—in even greater numbers than they had during World War I—disposable diapers offered them a timesaving alternative to cloth. As a result, CHUX® became a very popular product.

Named Lister’s Sanitary Diapers, the product was a nod to Sir Joseph Lister who pioneered sterile surgery and inspired the company’s founding.

Image courtesy: Johnson & Johnson Archives

As Johnson & Johnson has grown into a global company, it has continued its mission to help improve the lives of mothers and babies around the world. Today, technology allows the company to reach more families than ever. Programs like Text4Baby, the first free U.S. mobile health service, are improving maternal and infant health. Johnson & Johnson was a founding sponsor of the initiative that connects expectant mother with local prenatal and infant care, in addition to offering them advice on pediatric health and wellness.  

Outside the U.S., the company is working to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates by training medical workers. Today, many women around the world still give birth at home, without the help of a healthcare professional. In these regions, infant asphyxia is a common, yet preventable cause of death. To help combat it, Johnson & Johnson has teamed up with Save the Children. Together they’ve launched the Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) initiative. HBB trains healthcare workers to perform resuscitations on infants. So far, Johnson & Johnson has taught more than 1,300 birth attendants worldwide and saved more than 190,000 lives in China alone. Ultimately, Johnson & Johnson’s goal is to have a trained worker present at every birth.

In Uganda, one infant asphyxiation expert leads a training to show others how to help babies breathe.

Image courtesy: Johnson & Johnson Archives

From its very beginning, Johnson & Johnson has been committed to improving the lives of mothers and babies. More than a century later, the company continues this mission on a global scale. Through product innovation and strategic partnerships that educate women and healthcare professionals around the world, Johnson & Johnson is working to achieve better maternal and infant health and care.



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