Infant Mortality

State of Opportunity will be shining a spotlight on the issue of infant mortality this winter. Check back for news, resources, and personal stories.


11:39 am
Tue November 26, 2013

8 new charts showing how race and economics affect a baby's chance of survival in Michigan

Credit 2013 Michigan Health Equity Status Report / Michigan Department of Community Health

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. 

Here, then are eight charts from the report:


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6:00 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Infant mortality, mental health funding on chopping block

user: bradbrundage flickr

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.

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1:16 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Personal stories of babies born too small, too early or gone too soon

Cheryl Haggard with her son Maddux after his death. Haggard later founded Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a nonprofit that has provides families of babies who are stillborn or are at risk of dying with free professional portraits.
courtesy of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

For some, State of Opportunity's documentary on Michigan’s infant mortality crisis was an introduction to the issue. 

But for others, infant loss has long been a topic of worry or grief.

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4:03 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Infant mortality [transcript + audio]

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.

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4:03 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Infant mortality, part 3: A public health crisis needs solutions

Social worker Jenny Hall visits a client and her children at their apartment as part of the Healthy Start program in Genesee County.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

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. 

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3:43 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Infant mortality, part 2: The most disturbing disparity

user seanmcgrath flickr

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. 

Growing up in a toxic soup

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2:42 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Infant mortality, part 1: A personal tragedy, and a plan for the future

For every 1,000 babies born in Michigan, roughly seven won't make it to their first birthdays.
user tamakisono flickr

Behind the statistics: A personal tragedy

We talked previously about Chantania Smith and her struggle with losing a child. 

Six months into her pregnancy, Smith’s doctors discovered she had a short cervix, which is a major cause of preterm birth and a leading indicator for infant mortality.

When she went into labor a month and a half later, the umbilical cord prolapsed and came out first, and Smith was rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section.  

On January 14, 2010, she gave birth to a little baby boy named Jerome – JJ for short. 

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