Keeping Detroit's children safe is arguably Michigan's biggest public health challenge. (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)
A Detroit News study found that the death rate for children in Detroit under the age of 18 is 120 per 100,000, highest in the nation.
The reported rate of infant mortality in Detroit in 2011 was 12.6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, double the national average. These statistics are unacceptable for a state where the latest medical advancements are readily available, and where internationally acclaimed research in infant mortality is being conducted.
In response to these statistics, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is launching a public health campaign aimed at reducing infant mortality. Mayor Duggan’s initiative will focus on reaching pregnant women through an advertising campaign, and educating physicians on the latest strategies to reduce premature births, a major factor in infant mortality.
Assisting Duggan in his effort will be Dr. Sonia Hassan, the director of advanced obstetrical care and research for the National Institutes of Health’s Perinatology Research Branch at the Detroit Medical Center.
As the House Health Policy Committee chair, I have invited Dr. Hassan to testify at the March 11, House Health Policy committee meeting about the infant mortality prevention initiative, and advise us how we can make Michigan a healthier state for our infants.
With Gov. Rick Snyder’s dashboard initiative and the Michigan Department of Community Health’s “safe sleep” campaign, we can work together in reducing Michigan’s infant mortality rate. I am passionate about advocating for infant “safe sleep” and have sponsored House Bill 4962. This bill will provide new parents with educational materials on safe sleep practices, preventing accidental suffocation by an adult rolling onto a child during sleep. Avoiding unsafe sleep practices is critical to reducing risk of a tragic, unnecessary death.
I believe we need to have policies that promote recognition of these issues and collaboration at all levels of government to find effective solutions.
The hard work of the Michigan Department of Community Health, Snyder, and Duggan are examples of such collaborative efforts. With these initiatives, I look forward to a healthier and safer Michigan for our most vulnerable population, our infants.
State Rep. Gail Haines, R-Waterford, represents Michigan’s 43rd District.