infant mortality

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University of Michigan researchers say a woman's weight during pregnancy may have a much bigger impact on her infant than previously understood.

A study that looked at 1.8 million live single births in Sweden found that women who had a BMI of 35 or higher had twice the infant mortality rates of women who were not obese.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit officials are launching a new effort to reduce the rate of preterm births in the city. The rate of premature births in Detroit is 18%, among the highest in the world.

The city, Wayne State University and Detroit’s leading health systems are working together on the effort called Make Your Date.

Mayor Mike Duggan outlined how the program simplifies the way pregnant women can find prenatal care.

Michigan Kids Count

A new study finds economics play a significant role in Michigan’s infant mortality rate.

The Michigan Health Equity Status Report used data from 2010.   The report is a joint effort between the Practices to Reduce Infant Mortality through Equity Project (PRIME), and the MDCH Health Disparities Reduction and Minority Health Section.

kakisky / Morgue File

Michigan is getting $14.4 million for a program that does home visits for pregnant women and new mothers. A key goal is to reduce infant mortality. 

The Michigan Department of Community Health will use the money for prevention-focused home visits in at-risk communities. 

Michigan's infant mortality rate is above the national average.  Fourteen out of every 1,000 African American babies in Michigan die before they reach their first birthday. That is three times more than white babies.

Sono Tamaki / Flickr

Michigan has a high infant mortality rate -- especially among African American babies. The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has launched a website that will provide resources and information about infant mortality.

Seven out of every 1000 babies born in Michigan won't see their first birthday. The African American infant mortality rate is twice as high. 

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Too many babies are dying in Michigan. 

That’s not speculation – that’s based on some disturbing statistics. And even now, in 2013, those statistics say that a baby’s chance of living past his or her first birthday can largely depend on the color of the baby’s skin. 

In Michigan, the infant mortality rate has been persistently higher than the national average.

More specifically, a baby born to a black mother is almost three times more likely to die before its first birthday than a baby born to a white mother. 

Michigan Radio's Dustin Dwyer reported in August about Michigan's infant mortality disparity for State of Opportunity:

Using a three-year moving average for Michigan’s mortality rate for African-American babies, we would be behind every advanced nation, tucked between countries like Malaysia and Syria. 

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced he will not run for re-election. What does this means for the city moving forward while currently under emergency management?

And we took a look at what's behind Michigan's high infant mortality rate.

And author, theologian, preacher, and social activist Jim Wallis joined us to talk about his book and The Common Good for America.

But first in the show, we got an update on the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant, where crews are trying to figure out what caused the release of slightly radioactive water.

The plant was shut down a little over a week ago because of the leak, and crews say they have discovered a new crack in a water tank that has been leaking on and off for at least two years. Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith discussed the issue with us.

Sono Tamaki / Creative Commons

On an average day in Michigan, two babies die. That alarming statistic comes from the Michigan Department of Community Health, which says only 14 other states have worse infant mortality rates.

Jane Zehnder-Merrell is with the Kids Count project at the Michigan League for Public Policy. She says expanding Medicaid coverage under the federal Affordable Care act could make a big difference in reducing this sad statistic.

"If we care about what's happening to kids in this state, we need to make this investment at the very beginning of life to make sure that more kids are born healthy."

"The Affordable Care Act would insure that more mothers to be would have ongoing access to care which is important in order to have a healthy pregnancy."

Lawmakers in Lansing are debating whether to expand Michigan's Medicaid rolls. There is some opposition to the idea. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pick up the tab for the expansion through 2016.

State of Opportunity / Michigan Radio

Join us this afternoon at 2 p.m. for a special call-in show. We'll examine the disparities that exist in our society, and how they make it more difficult for children to break out of the cycle of poverty.

Michigan Radio reporters are working on a new three-year initiative to explore the issue of children living in poverty here Michigan. State of Opportunity captures the stories of children and families struggling to make ends meet. We’re going beyond the statistics and exploring what it takes to make Michigan a place where our every kid have a chance to build a positive future.

“Our project kind of has two ways at looking at these issues. We look at statistics, we look at data, and we look at trends. But then when we talk to the individuals, the individual stories don’t always match up with those trends,” reporter Dustin Dwyer said.

Reporter Jennifer Guerra is currently working on a documentary about the infant mortality rate in the state. She says the information she found was staggering. “Infant mortality is still a big problem in Michigan. We’re above the national average for the past twenty years,” she said.

cheriejoyful / Flickr

In Grand Rapids, African American infants are just slightly more likely to survive to their first birthday than infants born in the Gaza Strip. Six years ago, Grand Rapids had the worst infant mortality rate in the state. Today, it is sixth.

Michigan Dept. of Community Health

The Snyder Administration has outlined its plan to reduce infant mortality in Michigan, but some say the plan needs more state funding to work.

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A new report shows Michigan has made some progress in improving maternal and infant well-being.

The Michigan League for Human Services' Kids Count in Michigan project found a drop in the percentage of teen births over the past decade. Repeat births to teens and pre-term births have also decreased.

But it’s not all good news. Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Kids Count in Mchigan project director, says the state saw worsening trends over the decade in babies weighing less than 5.5 pounds, or low-birthweight babies.

"One of indicators that is of most concern is the 7 percent increase in low-birthweight, because that is what drives infant mortality particularly in the African American community."

African Americans babies had double the risk of being born too small, compared to white and Hispanic babies.

The report calls for more state investment in programs and policies to improve the well-being of mothers, and provide a stronger safety net for low-income families and their children.

Zehnder-Merrell says these data are not only indicators of how successful the next generation will be, but also "how successful our state will be."

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing returns to work today

Mr. Bing is expected back at city hall following his recovery from pulmonary embolisms in both lungs. Bing had an
operation in late March for a perforated colon, then returned to the hospital earlier this month after doctors discovered the blood clots in his lungs - a potentially life-threatening condition.

Bing, 68, was away for much of the drama surrounding the city's consent agreement vote with the state, but Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said Bing was continually informed and was providing his input into the process. From the Detroit News:

In a conference call with reporters 10 days ago, Bing said he was fully engaged in the process of hiring a chief financial officer as well as appointing members to the financial advisory board that will oversee the city's fiscal restructuring.

In that phone interview with reporters, Bing said he would start slowly and not work full days until his health is 100 percent.

Appointments to Detroit's financial oversight board continue

Five have been appointed to the nine-member financial advisory board - four more appointments are left.

The Detroit Free Press reports Detroit City Council will interview candidates today:

The council will interview candidates at 2:30 p.m. today and at 1 p.m. Tuesday at council chambers on the 13th floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.

"It will be a world-class board," council President Pro Tem Gary Brown, who is heading up the selection process for the council, said last week. "I've seen all the candidates, and people will be pleased with the level of competency on this board."

Council President Charles Pugh said the council could vote on its selections as early as Friday.

The financial advisory board will have oversight over the city's finances. Each member will be given $25,000 in annual compensation for their service on the board.

Number of low-birth weight babies increasing in Michigan

The Michigan League for Human Services’ Kids Count in Michigan report released today says the number of low-birth weight babies and babies born to unwed women is increasing, according to the Lansing State Journal.

The Journal reports that the authors of the report call for funding to implement changes from a state infant mortality summit.

The report says the 10 counties with the best health indicators for mothers and children are Houghton, Ottawa, Livingston, Leelanau, Midland, Grand Traverse, Oakland, Emmet, Clinton and Washtenaw.

The 10 worst are Berrien, Calhoun, Alcona, Genesee, Clare, Lake, Saginaw, Wayne, Crawford and Luce.

Pregnant women and new mothers in Michigan can now get free text message tips on raising healthy babies. The state Department of Community Health has partnered with a national program called "Text-4-Baby," which sends tips on infant health to people’s cell phones.

Angela Minicuci is with the department. She said the texts provide a lot of information.

“Critical information for birth defects, for immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu information, mental health, oral health, safe sleep tips, different things that women may need to know, both during their pregnancy and once the baby is born to make sure that both themselves and the child will be healthy,” said Minicuci.

Minicuci also said that giving advice via text makes sense.

“Research has shown that 85 percent of Americans own a cell phone, and 72 percent of users offer text messaging,” said Minicuci “So that’s a very good number, a very large portion of the population, and text4baby is going to help, I think, address that population that we need to reach.”

Minicuci said the goal of the text-message system is to help reduce infant mortality rates. Michigan’s infant mortality rate is 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. That’s above the national average. 

Governor Rick Snyder says the state should be more concerned with bringing down infant mortality rates in Michigan. Infant mortality rates have gotten worse in Michigan in the past three years. He says infant mortality rates reflect the overall health of a state.

“We’ve got this up on our dashboard. On the state dashboard, not just the health and wellness dashboard, because this is something we really need to do a better job on that is an important indicator of how well our state is. And more important, we’re talking about real lives,” Snyder said, speaking this morning at an infant mortality awareness summit in Ypsilanti.

Michigan has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the nation (nearly eight deaths per 1000 live births) and ranks 37th among the states. The national rate is nearly seven deaths per 1000 births.

Snyder has had some pushback recently from lawmakers who do not like the governor’s health proposals – which include body-mass-index reporting and banning smoking on state park beaches.

Snyder said he thinks he will be able to sway skeptical lawmakers:

“Well they’re all in the pipeline, they’ll come along in terms of looking at those types of issues, because health and wellness is a big issue.”

Snyder said he does not think there needs to be anything done legislatively to help drive the rate of infant deaths down in the state, but he said state officials and medical science leaders need to get together to come up with a plan to reduce the rate of infant deaths.

Sono Tamaki / Creative Commons

A program that’s showing signs of progress in reducing low birth weight and infant deaths among African-Americans is getting a major vote of confidence. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded a $4.5 million grant to a program in Grand Rapids called Strong Beginnings.

The program has reduced the number of black infant deaths in Grand Rapids by more than 20 percent in five years. 

Peggy Vander Meulen is executive director of Strong Beginnings.

Sono Tamaki / flickr

Washtenaw County's data shows African-American babies are at least three times more likely to die before their first birthday than white babies. That's according to data from the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Washtenaw County’s rate for African-American infant deaths is among the highest in the state, and it also has one of the widest statewide gaps between white and black infant mortality rates.

The rate for white infant deaths is among the lowest in the state and going down.