New reports released on infant deaths in Wisconsin

NOW: New reports released on infant deaths in Wisconsin

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- New reports on infant deaths in Wisconsin have been released by the Department of Health Services (DHS), highlighting the growing disparities.

"I've personally done CPR and resuscitation on little babies; I've personally been in the room when families have to learn that their baby has died and is not coming home; I've personally attended funerals of multiple babies that never made it to their first birthday," said Dr. Jasmine Zapata, the maternal health chief officer at DHS.

Dr. Zapata said one life gone is already too many and that is why the new data focuses on two key areas:

"Helping prevent sudden, unexpected infant death and then the other one is working on improving the area of low birth weight," she added.

Dr. Zapata said the findings show troubling disparities, particularly with non-Hispanic Black infants and American Indian or Alaska Native infants. With non-Hispanic Black infants being three times more likely to die before their first birthdays than non-Hispanic White infants. During those same years, the infant mortality rate for American Indian or Alaska Native infants was 1.5 times the rate for non-Hispanic White infants.

Even though there's been an equity gap in the past, the DHS chief maternal officer of the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely had an impact.

"What we are seeing especially from preliminary data analysis is that the impacts of COVID-19 definitely have been worsening our outcomes over the last few years," Dr. Zapata said.

Now, there's more of a push to expand access and provide high quality healthcare services to the mothers who need it most.

"It would be really important to increase funding for maternal and infant health programs, it's very important to expand access to high quality healthcare services," she said.

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