Improving access to and the quality of women’s healthcare, screening and treating pregnant women for infections and chronic medical conditions, and helping women and their families quit smoking are three key steps to help reduce infant mortality rates in Milwaukee, according to a comprehensive report released this week by the City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD).
Further promoting and supporting safe sleep, and more aggressive monitoring of women with previous preterm delivery would also significantly aid in reducing infant mortality within the community, the report says.
“Although we have already taken action in addressing parts of this complex problem, it is evident that much more needs to be done,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “This is everyone’s responsibility, and working collectively and collaboratively is essential to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
“That’s why I’m pleased to announce that on May 11, the City of Milwaukee Health Department will host its second annual infant mortality summit, which will focus on prematurity, the leading cause of infant death,” he said. “The summit will target Milwaukee physicians and healthcare systems that work with at-risk women, and will provide cutting edge, research-based information on how they can help reduce the risk of premature births.”
The Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) Report summarizes what is known about factors that contribute to Milwaukee’s high number of stillbirths and infant deaths in an effort to reduce infant mortality and eliminate the racial and ethnic disparity in infant mortality.
Through FIMR’s case review process, an analysis is done on all stillbirths and all infants who die before their first birthday. This is the fifth report since FIMR began in 1995.
The MHD has overseen Milwaukee’s FIMR project for more than 15 years. Among the findings in the report:
- From 2005-2008, there were 499 infant deaths and 308 stillbirths in Milwaukee
- African American infants were nearly three times more likely to die than White infants
- These deaths are especially concentrated in zip codes where levels of poverty, joblessness and other social and economic challenges are also high
- The most common causes of infant deaths are complications of prematurity, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or accidental suffocation (including unsafe sleep environments), and congenital abnormalities and related complications. Contributors to stillbirths include maternal disease (e.g., diabetes, hypertension), maternal infection (e.g. urinary tract infection, sexually transmitted infection) and congenital abnormalities.