Justice

Infant mortality lowest in state history

Racial disparities are also down, according to the state health department.

Michigan has the lowest infant mortality rate in the state’s history. That’s according to new data from the Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Racial disparities are also down, though they very much still exist.

The data comes from 2019, well before the pandemic began. The coronavirus may end up erasing some of the gains, but data from 2020 won’t be released until early next year.

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The 2019 data shows that for every thousand live births there were 6.4 infant deaths. That’s down from a rate of 8.5 per thousand in 2003.

Though the differences have declined, Black infant deaths were still 2.6 times higher than they were for white people. The Black infant mortality rate was 12.9 deaths per thousand live births, while the rate was 4.9 for white people.

The rate for Hispanic infants was 5.4 and the rate from Asians/Pacific Islanders was 5.1.

A number of different factors may be behind the differences. Notably, poverty, lack of access to adequate health care, and environmental factors may result in higher infant mortality rates for minorities in the state.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive said the goal is to eliminate racial disparities and reduce preventable deaths to zero. But the news is still positive.

“We’re seeing really positive trends,” she said. “Specifically, I’ll call out the City of Detroit, which has had the highest infant mortality rate in the state. We saw that infant mortality rate drop from 16.7 deaths per thousand live births in 2018 to 11 deaths per thousand in 2019.”

You can read more on Michigan Radio.

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