This week has been one of mourning. Across the country, and even around the globe, many have mourned the loss of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other men, women and children to a helicopter crash in California. Our hearts certainly go out to them and their families, but we had a death that hits even closer to home.
We at the Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF) were saddened to hear about the tragic death of a 3-month-old baby girl in Milwaukee early Sunday morning. We send our heartfelt condolences to the infant's family and ask that the entire community come together to wrap arms around this family suffering the loss of its baby.
This scenario has happened all too often in the cities of Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha. We continue to have the worst birth outcomes for black women in southeastern Wisconsin. Simply put, black babies are not getting a chance at life and as a result, infant mortality rates continue to rise.
This year alone, since January 1, 2020, there have been at least four confirmed infant deaths in Milwaukee, and this number does not include still births or other deaths not yet reported. We don't have 2019 numbers yet, but according to the City of Milwaukee Health Department, we know that in 2018, 99 infants born in the City of Milwaukee died before their first birthday. Various factors were attributed to those deaths, but more than half (55%) of them were linked to premature birth. Looking at a rolling average of infant mortality rates from 2016 - 2018, black babies had a 15.8% rate, double that of Hispanic/Latinx babies at 7.7% and triple that of white babies at 5.2%. Enough is enough. These numbers must change for the survival of our families.
The data shows that chronic stress due to racial and institutional discrimination is a key driver of infant mortality and poor birth outcomes. We are focusing our priority in these areas. We are instituting a place-based model where we are committing staff to the three most burdensome cities in the state to tackle this issue. It is called an Asset-Based Community Development model, or ABCD, and it identifies strengths and key assets of our priority communities in southeastern Wisconsin, empowering them to address infant mortality.
LIHF remains committed to protecting LIFE and connecting mothers (both expecting and current) with the tools and resources necessary for living long and prosperous lives for themselves, their babies, and their families.
LIHF Program Office
Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families Announces New Partnership
Posted on August 12, 2019
The Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families, with continued support from the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), is pleased to announce that it will continue and enhance its work in Southeastern Wisconsin to improve birth outcomes for African American families.
The Lifecourse Initiative is expanding to include a new partnership with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (PHI). The Lifecourse Initiative is using a new grant totaling $970,000 from the Wisconsin Partnership Program to build the strategic initiative’s infrastructure, pilot community capacity-building strategies, and increase awareness of strategies to reduce black-white disparities in birth outcomes for African American women, with a priority area of chronic stress.
The work will take place over the next 18 months. The Initiative continues to be led by Gina Green-Harris, MBA, director of the Lifecourse Initiative, and brings the new addition of Sheri Johnson, PhD, director of the PHI at the UW SMPH, who serves as the academic partner.
Read the recent press release.