Detroit reports lowest infant mortality rate in decades

Detroit's infant mortality rate is the lowest it has been in 20 years.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, who was the director of the Detroit Health Department, joined Mayor Mike Duggan to discuss the drop in infant deaths Wednesday.

Detroit recorded 16.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018. That number dropped to 11 per 1,000 live births in 2019. This number reflects babies who died before they turned 1-year-old.

The disparity between the number of Black babies and white babies who are dying is also closing. In 2018 the rate was 18.9 for Black babies compared to 6.4 for white babies. It was 12.3 for Black babies and 9.7 for white babies in 2019.

Duggan and Khaldun credited a number of initiatives with helping reduce the number of dying babies. Duggan noted that Khaldun's Baby Lyft program helped get more mothers to the doctor, especially Black mothers. State data showed that 25% of pregnant Black mothers did not get prenatal care during their first trimester because they didn't have transportation.

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When the program launched in 2017, it provided 723 free rides to expectant mothers. In 2019, more than 6,000 rides were provided.