Today, Mayor Tom Barrett issued a communitywide call to action as he released the city of Milwaukee 2013 infant mortality data. Preliminary data from the City of Milwaukee Health Department indicates that in 2013, 117 infants died in Milwaukee prior to their first birthdays. Using three-year rolling averages, which are statistically more reliable than single-year data, the overall infant mortality rate for the city of Milwaukee from 2011-2013 is 10.3 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births, an increase from 9.5 in 2010-2012, which was the lowest three-year rolling average rate on record.
“These overall numbers are troubling,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “This is a public health crisis that we as a community must address. Governmental public health cannot solve this alone. Broad community conditions so strongly affect the causes of infant death and we must more to address them.”
While the 2011-2013 three-year rolling average rate for Hispanics is at a historic low of 5.3, the African-American infant mortality rate in Milwaukee remains nearly three times the white infant mortality rate. The 2011-2013 three-year rolling average rate for African-Americans is 15.6, an increase from 14.6 during 2010-2012. The 2011-2013 three-year rolling average rate for whites also increased to 5.5 from 5.1 in 2010-2012.
Officials say the overall trend from 1997-1999 indicates that Milwaukee remains barely on track to reach its overall infant mortality goal of 9.4 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2017, a goal announced in 2011. However, Milwaukee is currently not on track to reach the simultaneous goal of reducing the African-American infant mortality rate to 12.0 by 2017.
To do so, Commissioner of Health Bevan K. Baker calls for a focus on improving birth outcomes by increasing access to quality medical and prenatal care, reducing smoking during pregnancy, supporting safe sleep practices, and, most importantly, enlisting a community-wide effort to reduce life course stressors across a wide range of areas, from neighborhood safety to early childhood education, job preparation programs, and reductions in both poverty and racism.
“Reducing infant mortality rates is not just about one program or one policy alone,” said Commissioner of Health Bevan K. Baker. “This is about developing an all-hands-on-deck solution. The City of Milwaukee Health Department will continue its aggressive on-the-ground interventions and will continue to work closely with our community partners and health care systems.”
“We all must work together to provide Milwaukee’s most vulnerable families a better opportunity for a healthy life right from birth,” added Mayor Barrett.