The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is claiming a victory for babies.  The department reports a major milestone surrounding infant mortality in the state.  2019 data shows the state had the lowest infant mortality rate ever, at least in modern times when statistics have been recorded. It also marks the big drop in what the department calls the disparity of deaths when comparing white and black infants.

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Infant mortality is generally considered to be the death of a baby before reaching the age of one. The Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology section of the state health department is releasing last year’s somber statistics, but at least there are improvements. Overall infant mortality in Michigan last year was 6.4 per 1,000 births. That is a notable drop according to state physicians. And the disparity between white and black infant deaths is dropping from 3.2 in 2018, to 2.6 in 2019.

Some of the more common causes of infant mortality include birth defects, maternal pregnancy complications, preterm birth, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, along with injuries like suffocation.

Last fall, the state’s Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, released an updated Health and Equity Improvement Plan for mothers and infants. It promotes a wide-ranging strategy to bolster the health of infants and mothers. The goal is to achieve the level of Zero Preventable Deaths and Zero Health Disparities.

Dr. Khaldun says, “It is encouraging that Michigan achieved an all-time low infant mortality rate in 2019, as well as the fact that we are starting to see a decreasing trend in the infant mortality disparity ratio between Black and white infants. But Dr. Khaldun says Michigan has a long way to go to reach the goal. “Vigilance and intentionality in our efforts must continue for us to remain on course. We must continue to address the root cause of inequities -- systemic racism moving collectively and actionably, as we celebrate the lowest infant mortality rate of record and closing disparate gaps in our fight to assure healthy outcomes for Michigan mothers and babies.”

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