Michigan has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation for babies born to Hispanic women, while black babies — both in Michigan and across the United States — are more likely to die before their first birthday, according to data released Thursday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hispanic babies in Michigan died at a rate of 7.28 per 1,000 live births from 2013 through 2015, compared with 4.99 deaths per 1,000 Hispanic babies born nationally, the highest infant mortality rate among the states for the population group.
Though infant mortality among Hispanics is of growing concern to public health officials, their rates continue to pale in comparison to those of African-Americans. Black babies in Michigan died at a rate of 12.10 per 1,000 live births during the years studied, a rate higher than the national average for African Americans.
Black babies across the county died at nearly twice the national rate, which includes infants born to mothers of all races and ethnicities. Nationally, there were 11.10 deaths per 1,000 babies born to African-American mothers, compared to the national average of 5.89 deaths per 1,000 births when all population groups are considered.
Social factors like poverty, stress, food insecurity, lack of education and limited access to transportation or health care can contribute to poor health outcomes for mothers and babies. For this reason, infant mortality is considered a good gauge of health in a community.
“Michigan has higher Hispanic as well as non-Hispanic black infant mortality rates, as do other states in the Great Lakes region, than many states nationwide,” Angela Minicuci, spokeswoman with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said Thursday. “We are currently doing a study to review Michigan’s Hispanic infant mortality data to look at a variety of factors that may be impacting this higher rate.
“We initiated this effort more than a year ago prior to this report being issued, as a result of an increase in Hispanic infant mortality rates in 2012 and beyond.”
Overall, U.S. infant mortality declined by 14 percent over a decade, to 5.90 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015 from 6.86 in 2005. Massachusetts had the lowest overall infant mortality with 4.28 deaths per 1,000 live births, less than one-half that of Mississippi, where 9.08 babies died per 1,000, the highest rate in the nation.
Michigan was among 21 states — including Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania — with an infant mortality rate significantly higher than the national average.
Minicuci said Michigan has an Infant Mortality Reduction Plan that includes steps to reduce infant mortality statewide for all populations.
“Of note from this plan, one of our top priorities is to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities by addressing the social determinants of health with a broad array of stakeholders and community partners,” Minicuci said. “We are also in the process of beginning the next edition of our Infant Mortality Reduction Plan.
“One of the key components of that plan will be to develop strategies to specifically target Hispanics, African-Americans and Native Americans to reduce their rates.”