Despite four major health systems, thousands of doctors, and countless social service programs, Detroit’s infant mortality rate rivals that of a developing nation.
“We lose, in any given year in the city of Detroit—not in southeast Michigan, but in Detroit—150 to 200 babies before their first birthday,” says former Michigan surgeon general Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, now senior vice president of community health & equity and chief wellness & diversity officer at Henry Ford Health System.
The numbers are especially sobering among African American babies. For Detroit’s white population, the average infant mortality rate between 2012 and 2014 per 1,000 live births was 10.4. For black babies in Detroit, the rate was 14.5 during the same years.