DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit, which has an infant mortality rate of 16 deaths per live birth,  is targeted in a new program aimed at preventing infant deaths. But, as WWJ’s Pat Sweeting reports, recent action by the State of Michigan may pose new concerns.

With the launch this week of the “Sew Up the Safety Net for Women and Children” initiative, it’s hoped that new and expectant mothers will begin accessing services that are designed to keep them and their babies healthy.

Linda Jordan, who manages ambulatory care services at the DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan, said she’s concerned that Detroit’s infant mortality rate could worsen, as Michigan families are kicked off state cash assistance.

“Depriving them of having the ability of taking care of themselves really impacts their ability to be great parents and to get the care their parents need,” she said.

Jordan said Detroit’s infant mortality rate is about double the national average, with 16.5 deaths for every 1,000 babies born alive. And that number is three times higher for African-American infants than for white infants.

“Sew Up the Safety Net for Women and Children” is a 1.8-million project that will recruit 1,500 at-risk women, ages 18-35, in the Brightmoor, Osborn and southwest Chadsey/Condon neighborhoods. Participants will be assigned mentors to help them connect to resources for education, employment, housing, nutrition, pre-natal care, and family planning classes.

The program is funded, in part, by the Henry Ford, Oakwood and St. John Providence health systems, the Detroit Medical Center and the Kresge Foundation.

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