Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Infant mortality rates in Michigan are better than they used to be, but still not good enough. 

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.

A personal story of love, loss, and renewed hope

Oct 8, 2012
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

No one wants to lose their child at a young age. But in Michigan, it’s a reality too many parents face. 

Michigan's infant mortality rate has persistently been higher than the national rate for two decades. For every 1,000 babies born in Michigan, roughly seven won't make it to their first birthday. Break it down by race, and the numbers are even more disturbing.

Michigan Resident Birth and Death Files, MDCH Division for Vital Records & Health Statistics / MDCH MCH Epidemiology Unit, 6/28/2012

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.

#1: The 'social determinants of health'

How to help people and banish burnout

Sep 18, 2012

Health insurance is such a political issue, talked about all the time and so dispassionately, that it can be easy to forget just how important it is to some families. But, last year the Census estimated paying for health care pushed at least 10 million Americans into poverty. In Washtenaw County, the Census estimates there are almost thirty-three thousand people without medical insurance.

At first, the news from the Census Bureau today seems really good. The agency's most recent report on poverty and health coverage shows that poverty has held steady and health insurance coverage has increased.

Hey, I'll take it because it's always good and increasingly rare, to see numbers going in the right direction.

But the numbers are still really high. Fifteen percent of the country's population is living in poverty, and 15.7 percent is uninsured.

user Brad Brundage / Flickr

When it comes to keeping infants alive in Michigan, we're not doing that great a job.

Michigan's infant mortality rate has been higher than the national average for more than two decades. 

Here are the latest numbers:

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

flickr user cheriejoyful

Racial inequality shows up in just about every possible measure of opportunity you can think of - in schools, neighborhoods, employment numbers, incarceration rates and even health.

Perhaps the most disturbing racial disparity, though, happens right at birth. 

Who decides which child health concerns matter most?

Aug 21, 2012
insipidlife / flickr

Doctors and public health professionals certainly have a lot to say about children's health, and parent's do too. But how do these concerns translate into policies or programs tasked with doing something to make kids healthier? Well-that's more of a free for all.

Every year, the University of Michigan's C. S. Mott Children's Hospital does a survey on childhood health concerns. They ask adults, both parents and non-parents alike, to state their health concerns for the children in their community. This year, lack of exercise was number one on the list of top-ten child health concerns.  Obesity and smoking rounded out the top three health concerns for kids.

But do these adults really know what the concerns for kids are? Certainly, there are a lot of kids who are not exercising regularly? About 50% of kids in Michigan do not exercise regularly, according to Kids Count, making it partly responsible for the rise in obesity (which stands around 30% for kids in the state). A lack of healthy food or even just eating school lunches are also partly to blame for obesity.

user wax115 / morgueFILE

Got milk?

Breast milk, to be specific.

Beginning next month, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (of soda ban fame) is now making the push for mothers to ditch infant formula and use breast milk instead. The New York Post reports:

Google Street View

Update 5:48 p.m.

Detroit EMS officials now say an ambulance did respond to the scene where a 9-year old boy fell to his death Wednesday.

Detroit State Representative Rashida Tlaib, based on statements from witnesses, said no ambulance ever arrived at the scene of the tragedy.

But Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek says EMS officials dispute that.

EMS officials say an ambulance was indeed dispatched just one minute after a 911 all came in, but police beat the ambulance to the scene and decided to take the boy to the hospital, where he later died.