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New study looks at social factors at work in Michigan high infant mortality rate

Michigan Kids Count

A new study finds economics play a significant role in Michigan’s infant mortality rate.

The Michigan Health Equity Status Report used data from 2010.   The report is a joint effort between the Practices to Reduce Infant Mortality through Equity Project(PRIME), and the MDCH Health Disparities Reduction and Minority Health Section.

The report’s authors found Michigan’s non-white population represented 21% of the total state population in 2010, but 43% of the infant deaths.  

Also, women reported a number of life stressors the year before giving birth. However, African American mothers were more likely to report six or more life stressors than were white mothers.  The identified stressors include:  moving to a new address, arguing with partners more than usual, loss of a loved one, and difficulty paying bills.

Angela Minicuci is a Michigan Department of Community Health spokeswoman. She says these are not issues state health officials can tackle alone.

“That’s going to require us to work with our external partners, other agencies like the Department of Human Services working within their areas of child protective services…(so) we can…impact all of these things,” says Minicuci.  

Jane Zehnder-Merrell is state project director for Kids Count ,a group that tracks child well-being in Michigan.    She says the report does a good job of “connecting the dots”.

She applauds Governor Snyder’s efforts to improve infant mortality – but….

“There’s a dissonance in the policies that the governor is promoting around economic security.  We don’t see the same level of commitment to improving the lives of working families,” says Zehner-Merrell, adding the governor’s office should be doing more to help families still recovering from the recession. 

Michigan Radio’s State of Opportunity has reported extensively on the state’s struggle to reduce its infant mortality rate.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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