Barrett starts six-year campaign to drop infant mortality rates

CREATED Nov 9, 2011

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  • Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. | Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee's mayor is starting a campaign to turn around the city's infant mortality problem which is biggest among African-Americans.

Mayor Tom Barrett told Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News" that there are zip codes in the city with a huge racial disparity and an infant mortality rate that's higher than some third world nations.

"That's an embarrassment to the city, an embarrassment to the county, to the region, to the entire state of Wisconsin, that we've got neighborhoods in the city where the infant mortality rate is higher than it is in some third world countries," he said to 620WTMJ's Gene Mueller.

He's begun a six-year campaign to drop infant mortality rates overall in the city, and especially among African-Americans.

"We're setting a goal of reducing the infant mortality rate for African-Americans 15% over the next six years, and for the city, our goal is to reduce it 10% over the next six years."

He says he wants the entire region to be invested in the issue, particularly among the health care community.

"We need the hospitals to step up.  I've talked to a number of them.  They certainly appear interested in it.  This is going to take a community-wide effort," said Barrett.

But he also explained it would take an effort among parents and others not to co-sleep with children.

"Co-sleeping is for me, probably, personally the most frustrating, because it seems that every month or so, every couple or weeks, we read another story about a mother, an aunt, a grandmother or a father who wants to cuddle with their baby and has the baby in bed with them, and it's a recipe for disaster," said Barrett. 

"The baby should be in their own crib.  They should be lying on their back.  Those deaths are by far the most preventable."