Leaders come together for Third Annual Infant Mortality Summit

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and the City of Milwaukee Health Department hosted the “Third Annual Infant Mortality Summit” Wednesday, June 6th at the Italian Community Center in downtown Milwaukee.

This year’s theme was “Changing the Social Determinants of Health.” Previous years’ events have focused on unsafe sleeping environments and premature births, the most preventable and most prevalent causes of infant death, respectively.

“Changing the Social Determinants of Health” explored the connections between social and economic factors such as jobs and early childhood education, and how they affect birth outcomes.

Less than 24 hours after conceding the gubernatorial recall election to Gov. Scott Walker, Barrett was back at work.

“It felt good to come back here and talk about an issue that I feel passionate about,” Barrett said.

Milwaukee’s infant mortality rate measures the number of deaths of children under one year of age per every one-thousand births.

“Right now, we’re at 10.2 overall. That’s not good, but we’re at 14.5 for African Americans, per thousand,” Milwaukee Health Commission Bevan Baker said.

Baker said the racial disparity represents an area of great concern to city leaders and one of many that are included on Wednesday’s work list.

“This is about finding solutions, finding answers and bringing thought leaders together,”

Among the national leaders of thought regarding infant mortality is keynote speaker, Dr. Anthony Iton.

“You frequently don’t have the ability to command people to do this work. You have to bring them together. You have to make them feel value. You have to prioritize these issues in a way that inspires them,” Dr. Iton said.

Baker says only about 250 people were expected to attend Wednesday’s summit, but 300 showed up. He says obviously, organizers were happy to accommodate anyone who was willing to join the effort to eradicate infant mortality.

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