infant mortality

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January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month — an effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which hopes to shed light on the issue of fetal health. While there are many birth defects which can’t be prevented, with the right care there are steps that mothers can take to make certain birth defects less likely. 

Birth defects include a wide array of issues, including both mild problems and life-threating conditions. 

Courtesy of Sabrina Foulks-Thomas

In recent years, a number of black and brown women in Milwaukee have become doulas, and now there’s also a push to train more midwives of color. These trained, licensed medical professionals deliver babies in hospitals, birthing centers, and at homes.

Sabrina Foulks-Thomas, who is black, is one of those midwives. She has done this work for the past three years.

While there are midwives in Milwaukee who have worked in the field for decades, Foulks-Thomas says she recognizes the impact she can have as a black woman.

LaToya Dennis

The city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are investing in doulas in hopes reducing the number of black babies who die before the age of one.

READ: Wisconsin has the highest infant mortality rate for black babies in the country. Why?

While doulas don’t have medical training, they do provide emotional, physical and mental support to families before, during and after the arrival of a baby.

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So for a lot of families, there’s this thing that happens when they find out they’re expecting a baby. Once they get past the Is this really happening? stage and all the excitement that can come with knowing you’re growing a life, in can set the worry.

Am I eating the right foods? Am I getting enough sleep? Is this safe for the baby? Is my baby moving enough? How will…. What if… and on, and on.

For me, this was personal. 2018 was a monumental year for my family.

My husband and I welcomed our daughter.

Milwaukee’s infant mortality rate continues to be a problem. While the city has brought the numbers down, several more babies have died in just the past few weeks. On Tuesday, community members gathered to discuss how to move forward. 

They encouraged more people to participate in one program in particular, the Strong Baby Sanctuary Initiative.

Photo courtesy of Devi Shastri / Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Eight years ago, Marquette University’s College of Nursing bought out a private medical practice on Milwaukee’s near north side and turned it into a neighborhood health center that primarily reached underserved women.

The Marquette Neighborhood Health Center offered pre- and post-natal care, along with delivery services provided by nurse midwives. The clinic had been struggling financially for several years, running five days a week with eighty five percent of its patients on Medicaid.

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Fewer babies died last year in Milwaukee than the previous year, but city leaders aren’t yet ready to celebrate. Infant mortality remains troubling, especially among African Americans babies.

84 infants died prior to their first birthday last year across Milwaukee. Black babies died at nearly three times the rate of white babies.

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Milwaukee’s efforts to reduce the rate of infant mortality in the city took a blow yesterday, when the city released new data showing the rate climbed to 10.3 deaths for every thousand births in the city.  That came after consistent decreases in the last decade. 

City of Milwaukee Health Department

Though Milwaukee's infant mortality rate dropped for six years in a row, it still remains at crisis levels, a new report says.

Overall in Milwaukee, more than 10 infants died per 1,000 live births from 2009 through 2011.

But the problem is especially acute for black babies, who die at nearly three times the rate of white babies in Milwaukee.

Co-Sleeping Deaths Persist in Milwaukee

Dec 4, 2013

Police in Milwaukee are investigating yet another possible co-sleeping death, possibly the city's 16th this year.

A 22-year-old woman is facing a charge of first degree reckless homicide, in the death of Michael Johnson III.

African-American babies born in Milwaukee continue dying at substantially higher rates than white and Hispanic infants.