My colleague Steve Carmody reported yesterday on a new study looking at the social factors at play in Michigan's higher-than-average infant mortality rate. This is a topic we've been discussing on State of Opportunity pretty much since the project began, and our own Jennifer Guerra produced an award-winning documentary last year on the racial disparities in infant mortality.
And if you haven't followed this reporting, let me get right to the point of it all: Researchers and public health experts now believe things like poverty and racism are literally killing babies.
It's a strong claim, but it comes from a strong, and growing, body of research. For an overview, you should definitely check out Jennifer's documentary linked above. But if you just want a quick glance at the latest evidence, you can look at the results from the new Michigan Health Equity Status Report released yesterday.
Update: 2:06 p.m.: My colleague Dustin Dwyer was surfing the web today and came across this incredibly moving song about a young father and his son who died too soon.
Given what this web post was about today, I had to share. With lyrics like "his whole hand wrapped around my finger, he was premature / they said he need me, but I felt I really need him more," the song grabs your heart and doesn't let go.
JENNIFER GUERRA: I want to introduce you to a young mom, her name is Angela. She’s 21 years old. She lives with her son in a two bedroom, section eight apartment, just outside Detroit in Highland Park.
ANGELA: I have one kid and one on the way. Want me to say his name? His name is Darrion, he’s three years old.
JG: Darrion has a crazy amount of energy. He likes to bounce around his two-bedroom apartment like the springiest frog you’ve ever seen. He’s also a very big fan of toy cars. And soon, his mom tells me, Darrion is going to be a big brother.
In our final segment of State of Opportunity, Jennifer Guerra looks at what's being done today to help ensure that all children have an equal shot at celebrating their first birth - no matter where they live, what color their skin is, or how much money their parents have in the bank.
A Healthy Start approach, or how to get the black infant mortality rate down to zero
State of Opportunity reporter Jennifer Guerra tagged along with Jenny Hall on a home visit to see a client of hers who lives near Flint.
In part two of our State of Opportunity documentary on infant mortality and disparities, we ask the question: Why are black babies two and a half times more likely to die before they turn one than white babies?
Two of the leading causes of infant mortality are babies that are born too soon or too small, and a disproportionate amount of those babies are African American.
Seven out of every 1,000 babies born in Michigan will die before their first birthday. This isn't a statistic the state is proud of, and lately there's been a lot of effort put into lowering this number.
Tomorrow, State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra will report on Michigan's infant mortality rate. The one-hour documentary will air Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Michigan Radio.
During the documentary, Guerra will interview many public health workers and researchers who will offer their hypotheses on why racial disparities exist in infant mortality rates. Here's a list of some of the top arguments.