“We can turn this around:” City leaders push to reduce preventable infant deaths

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MILWAUKEE -- Because of the high infant mortality rate, city of Milwaukee officials, church officials and those with local hospitals have come together for a program focusing on the health and well-being of infants and mothers.

Strong Babies SanctuaryA discussion over lunch will have a major impact with how babies and mothers eat, sleep and are cared for overall.

"We want the community to come together and support moms," said Julia Means, Columbia St. Mary's coordinator.

On Tuesday afternoon, May 17th, leaders from area hospitals and the city of Milwaukee called on the faith-based community to join the Strong Baby Sanctuary partnership, focused on reducing preventable infant deaths.

safe sleep

"We will talk about the ABCs of safe sleeping. A baby should be alone, on the back, in the crib, no smoke. We know about 20 percent of infant deaths are from co-sleeping, but the bigger number really is as a result of combinations due to prematurity. That's where lifestyle comes in, access to prenatal care," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Each year in Milwaukee, approximately 100 infants die before their first birthday.

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"One of the great public health challenges in Milwaukee is to try and close the black and white terms of infant mortality reduction," said Bevan Baker, Commissioner of Health.

Now, they're hoping to make an impact with Cornerstone of the Community.

baby2"If people have the support and the resources, than we can turn this around," said Means.

They are providing tangible resources and emotional help.

"The church is open to them. We have food pantries. We have a baby pantry. We try to supply the need. We want to be non-judgmental. That's going to put their arms around you and help you all through this journey," said Means.

Right now, 10 Milwaukee churches are part of the initiative but that number will certainly grow.

CLICK HERE to view the Strong Baby Sanctuary partners