The city of Detroit has seen a steady decline over the past few decades. A combination of factors, including a dwindling population, high crime rates and widespread unemployment, have earned it the title of one of the nation’s Most Dangerous Cities.
Now, the city has also gained the reputation as one of the worst places to be born.
The infant mortality rate in Detroit is now worse than that of some developing countries. Bloomberg recently reported that in 2012, Detroit “saw a greater proportion of babies die before their first birthdays than any American city, a rate higher than in China, Mexico and Thailand.”
According to an investigation published in January by The Detroit News, “Infant mortality is the No. 1 killer of Detroit children; violence is second. In 2011 alone, 130 of the 208 Detroit children who died that year had not yet marked their first birthday.”
The numbers are bleak, and to make matters worse, the Michigan Department of Human Services just saw $US287.6 million in cuts to public assistance for poor and unemployed individuals and families, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The Detroit News investigation prompted Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to launch a campaign to fight preterm births, the number one driver behind Detroit’s sky-high infant mortality rate. A preterm birth is defined as a baby that is born prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy, and such babies — so-called “preemies” — are at high risk for health problems and complications.
Stress, poor nutrition, smoking, injury, and being over- or under-weight are all risk factors for preterm birth, and access to appropriate prenatal care can help mitigate some of those risks.
The “Make Your Date” campaign, announced in May, offers free prenatal care, including cervical screenings, to pregnant women in Detroit regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay.
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