“All-hands-on-deck solution” needed: Infant mortality rate up; 117 babies died in 2013

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has issued a community wide call to action as he released the city of Milwaukee 2013 infant mortality data. The numbers show the city’s overall infant mortality rate has increased. While the Hispanic infant mortality rate is at a historic low, the infant mortality rate for white and African-American children has risen.

Preliminary data from the City of Milwaukee Health Department indicates that in 2013, 117 infants died in Milwaukee prior to their first birthdays.

Using three-year rolling averages, which are statistically more reliable than single-year data, the overall infant mortality rate for the city of Milwaukee from 2011-2013 is 10.3 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births, an increase from 9.5 in 2010-2012, which was the lowest three-year rolling average rate on record.

“These overall numbers are troubling,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “This is a public health crisis that we as a community must address. Governmental public health cannot solve this alone. Broad community conditions so strongly affect the causes of infant death and we must do more to address them.”

While the 2011-2013 three-year rolling average rate for Hispanics is at a historic low of 5.3, the African-American infant mortality rate in Milwaukee remains nearly three times the white infant mortality rate.

The 2011-2013 three-year rolling average rate for African-Americans is 15.6, an increase from 14.6 during 2010-2012.

The 2011-2013 three-year rolling average rate for whites also increased to 5.5 from 5.1 in 2010-2012.

Officials say the overall trend from 1997-1999 indicates that Milwaukee remains barely on track to reach its overall infant mortality goal of 9.4 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2017, a goal announced in 2011.

However, Milwaukee is currently not on track to reach the simultaneous goal of reducing the African-American infant mortality rate to 12.0 by 2017.

To do so, Commissioner of Health Bevan K. Baker calls for a focus on improving birth outcomes by increasing access to quality medical and prenatal care, reducing smoking during pregnancy, supporting safe sleep practices, and, most importantly, enlisting a community-wide effort to reduce life course stressors across a wide range of areas, from neighborhood safety to early childhood education, job preparation programs, and reductions in both poverty and racism.

“Reducing infant mortality rates is not just about one program or one policy alone,” said Commissioner of Health Bevan K. Baker. “This is about developing an all-hands-on-deck solution. The City of Milwaukee Health Department will continue its aggressive on-the-ground interventions and will continue to work closely with our community partners and health care systems.”

“We all must work together to provide Milwaukee’s most vulnerable families a better opportunity for a healthy life right from birth,” added Mayor Barrett.

CLICK HERE for a closer look at the data


  • Mary

    WHAT MORE CAN YOU DO?!? They can’t afford cribs so they are provided with free pack n plays only to be unused and filled with clothes and other stuff that does not belong. Some of them get drunk and high and think they are ok to sleep with a 2month old only to realize in the morning when they wake up they slept on top of their newborns 1/2 the night.. it’s insane. SIDS really happens parents that loose their children to that are not at fault, bt i’ve read alot of stories this past year with baby deaths that scream murder and they should be charged for killing their babies and putting them in unsafe sleeping enviorments……

  • Not You

    When Milwuakee city leaders pull thier collective heads out of the sand on the shores of Lake Michigan and stop being politically correct about this, they will actually admit this is due MAINLY no solely but MAINLY to CO SLEEPING!!!! You know it, I know, the community knows it and everyone is AFRAID to say it, because it MIGHT be called RACIST by someone!! Make no mistake…if someone says infant mortality problems in the city of Milwaukee is due to co-sleeping, the first one who screams racism is the actual racist, and until we start calling this in reality instead of fantasy land, nothing is going to change. Charge these people with murder, manslaughter, and prison and this WILL STOP HAPPENING! Let the hate mail begin!!

  • Dirk

    The parents need to be held accountable for the death plain and simple. Anybody with a half a brain can figure that that out, oh yeah city government only has a quarter of a brain collectively.

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