Health & Science
11:00 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Infant Mortality Down in Milwaukee, Except for African-American Babies

African-American babies born in Milwaukee continue dying at substantially higher rates than white and Hispanic infants.

Premature births continue plaguing African-American babies in Milwaukee

The numbers are contained in the city's 2012 infant mortality data, released Tuesday.

In 2012, 96 infants died in the City of Milwaukee - the lowest number on record here, as well as the sixth straight year infant mortality declined. The city's three-year rolling average also fell to a record low - 9.6 deaths for every 1,000 live births, and is considered a more reliable indicator of trends.

The exception is African-American babies. The rate of those who died before reaching their first birthday rose from 14.3 in 2007-2009, to 14.6 in 2010-2012.

The mortality rate for Hispanic babies fell to 6.1 over the 2010-2012 period, an historic low in the city. The average rate for white infants held steady at 5.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.

According to Health Commissioner Bevan Baker, 60% of African-American infant deaths have been attributable to premature birth, while 20% have been linked to unsafe sleeping conditions.

In 2011, the City of Milwaukee set a goal of lowering the overall infant mortality rate here to 9.4 by 2017, including lowering the African-American rate to 12.0.

Mayor Tom Barrett says the city should be proud of its accomplishments, yet "the racial disparity in infant mortality rates in Milwaukee remains unacceptable. We must do better.”