Infant mortality up in Kzoo

Even as infant mortality rates fell dramatically throughout the state, Kalamazoo's rose.

Michigan has the lowest infant mortality rate in recorded history, according to state data from 2019 released last week. But that’s not true in Kalamazoo County, where the rate increased between 2018 and 2019.

The numbers are worse for Black babies and those from other minority groups.

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“The disparities are pretty clear,” said Denise Crawford, the president and CEO of the Family Health Center, in an interview with WWMT. “We know that for African American babies, our infant mortality rates are a little over 12 per thousand. We know that our Caucasian rates are a little over four per thousand.”

A number of factors are behind the disparity, including lack of access to health care, adequate housing, and transportation.

“It’s not as simple as racism but that is a big part of it,” said Crawford. “It’s how individuals enter the system, how individuals are treated once they are within the system, and how comfortable individuals feel accessing the system.”

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