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Infant Mortality

What is Infant Mortality?

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the death of a baby before his or her first birthday is called infant mortality. The infant mortality rate is an estimate of the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births.

Why Does It Happen?

Infant mortality is driven by both health and social factors. These social factors are called the “social determinants of health.” Social factors can affect women’s health before and during pregnancy, as well as the health of her baby. Examples of social factors include gender, discrimination, exposure to crime and violence, access to resources to meet basic needs, income, and level of daily stress.

Some of the things that affect infant survival include:

Poor prenatal care: When a pregnant woman does not receive any prenatal care or if care only began during the third trimester, it can hurt the baby’s health. In Detroit, mothers of 6 out of every 10 infants that die did not receive suitable prenatal care.

Race: Infant mortality rates for black women are typically 1 ½ to 2 times higher than for white women. There are many possible reasons for this. Black women often experience more stress related to race and gender, poorer nutrition, and not receiving suitable prenatal healthcare . These and other factors can lead to higher rates of low birth weight, premature birth, and maternal complications during pregnancy.

Maternal Education: Infant mortality rates are higher among infants born to women with less than a high school degree.

Low birth weight: Babies born weighing under 5.5 pounds are more likely to have health problems.

Premature birth: Babies born after less than 37 weeks of pregnancy are more likely to have health problems.

Birth defects

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Infant Mortality in Detroit

Infant mortality is often used as a measure of the health of the general population. The things that affect the health of the community also impact infant survival.

From 2013 to 2019, the infant mortality rate for Black infants in Detroit worsened, while the infant mortality rate for white infants improved. The Black infant mortality rate from 2016-2018 in Detroit was 15.9 per 1,000 live births. This means that for every 1,000 Black babies born, approximately 16 would not live past one year of age. Reducing these deaths requires bold, innovative solutions built for Black moms, babies, and families.

According to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services data, Detroit’s infant mortality rate plunged from 16.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018 to 11 per 1,000 live births in 2019, representing a one-third rate reduction. Also promising is a significant closing of the disparity between black babies and white babies dying before their first birthday. In 2018 the rate was 18.9 for black babies compared to 6.4 for white babies. In 2019, that gap closed dramatically with a rate of 12.3 for black babies and 9.7 for white babies.

Mayor Duggan and Dr. Khaldun credited a communitywide effort among a wide group of government, private health care, and nonprofit organizations that have worked for years – in some cases decades – to improve the odds of survival for babies born in Detroit, including WIN Network: Detroit.

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