Thursday, January 30, 2014
More babies are born prematurely in predominantly-black Detroit than in any major city in the United States
Prematurity, whose deadly side effects include brain hemorrhages, collapsed lungs and failing organs, is the leading killer of Detroit’s babies. It’s the major component of infant mortality — a catch-all term comprising all conditions that claim children before their first birthday. 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. Detroit has more babies born to moms who are under 20, and to single women, than in any other major American city. And often, those young women are not themselves in good health and otherwise ill-equipped to have babies. Detroit’s high infant mortality rate has changed little over more than a decade, though the number of deaths has decreased as people have fled the predominantly-black city. Detroit’s infant mortality rate is the worst among big U.S. cities, and worse than some Third-World countries. Eighty percent of new Detroit mothers are unmarried, compared with 42% of all Michigan moms. Also, the city has more teen moms than any other in America: 18%. Detroit’s high concentration of African-Americans may play a role in the city’s infant mortality rate, because preterm births are more common in African-Americans for reasons not fully understood. African-American babies also face greater risks of death in their first days of life. From birth to 28 days, African-Americans have a mortality rate that’s approximately double that of whites.