Reducing Infant Mortality through Reproductive Health Education for New/Young Mothers

By Olivia Nalugya

Birth outcomes for young and new mothers are more likely to be poor compared to older mothers. Negative birth outcomes for young mothers have to do with social and economic factors such as stress and domestic abuse. However, based on findings from focus groups on  Kalamazoo Black infant mortality, it was evident that young mothers lack information on how to take care of themselves before, during and after pregnancy which also contributes to poor birth outcomes. This article explores the need for education services for young and first time mothers and also questions the accessibility of such resources in Kalamazoo to young mothers. Recommendations for better or more successful resources for young mothers include models such as the Health Babies Project in the District of Columbia. Continue reading Reducing Infant Mortality through Reproductive Health Education for New/Young Mothers

Poverty and Resources

By Ramya Dronamraju

Black infant mortality rates are dangerously high in the Kalamazoo Country area. These Black infant mortality rates are correlated to the poverty in the Kalamazoo county area. 85% of Black women live in poverty in Kalamazoo. Factors affecting these rates include poverty and access to resources that are needed to raise a baby. Those living in difficult financial situations may not have access to important resources- materially and with regards to health care. This could potentially worsen the health of mothers and the babies in their care. This paper explores the access to resources mothers may or may not have in Kalamazoo while in situations of poverty and the disconnect in communication between professionals, community members and mothers. Continue reading Poverty and Resources

Neighborhood and Community

By Annalise Robinson

In Kalamazoo, black babies are dying at a 4.5 times higher rate than white infants. When we ask the question, “ Why are black babies dying at a higher rate than white?” we must first note that 85 percent of black women giving birth in Kalamazoo County live in poverty. We must then examine the environments in which these mothers and infants reside. Because of the constraints of the segregated neighborhoods, access to adequate health care before, during, and after pregnancies is rare for black mothers in Kalamazoo. Many health and social work professionals in Kalamazoo have named several resources that are available to mothers, but these abundant resources in greater Kalamazoo are not reaching certain communities and neighborhoods for a number of reasons; the inability to access transportation, inadequate family care, and lack of a shared support system of the entire community in the greater Kalamazoo community, to only scratch the surface. Continue reading Neighborhood and Community

Family Structure: How Does it Impact Black Infant Mortality?

By Courtney Wise

“Black babies died at a 4.5 times higher rate than white infants in Kalamazoo County over the last three years, up from 2 to 3 times higher rate about 20 years ago” (Mcmichael, 2015). How did this happen? Why does this rate keep on rising? In this section, the aspects of family structure and its impact on black infant mortality will be explored. This section includes structural violence, access to health care, single motherhood, poverty and the prison-industrial complex. Continue reading Family Structure: How Does it Impact Black Infant Mortality?

Addressing Infant Mortality and Safe Sleep Through Education by a Systems Integration Approach

By Dylan Shearer

On average in the United States, four million babies are born each year, which translates to approximately 7 or 8 births per minute. A more sobering fact is that not all of these babies will live to see their first birthday; in fact, six infants out of every 1,000 births will die within their first year of life. Surprisingly, in the US more babies die proportionately than countries like France, Germany, England, and even Japan. In this article, I seek to reveal why safe sleep specifically is important by contextualizing it with focus group interviews conducted among mothers and healthcare professionals in Kalamazoo, and I will suggest that safe sleep educational initiatives and a systems integration approach should be utilized to combat infant mortality in a way that builds strong community relationships and fosters communication. Continue reading Addressing Infant Mortality and Safe Sleep Through Education by a Systems Integration Approach

Domestic Violence as a Contributor in Infant Mortality

By Camryn Romph

The racial disparity of infant mortality in Kalamazoo, Michigan has recently come to the community’s attention. Statistically speaking, black babies are currently 4.5 times more likely to die before their first birthday than white babies are. In a class project, focus groups were conducted to identify certain themes that tie together many different individual cases of infant mortality. One of these themes, domestic violence, was a common factor in many of the unique stories and experiences of both women who have been affected by infant mortality, as well as Kalamazoo community health care professionals. Many of the participants, as well as other studies, suggest that there is also a racial disparity that shows the black population may also be more likely to experience domestic violence. Domestic violence in itself creates a myriad of complications and consequences, both indirect and direct, which can impact the health of a mother and an infant and, in turn, may influence the mortality of an infant. This paper seeks to contextualize domestic violence and the diverse roles and contributions it has on the racial disparity of infant mortality in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Continue reading Domestic Violence as a Contributor in Infant Mortality

The Implementation of Increased Preventative Efforts and Comprehensive Sexual Education Programs

By Sean Bolourchi

In Kalamazoo, Black infants are dying at a rate of 4.5 times higher than White infants. The Community Action Initiative started by Grace Lubwama, CEO of the YWCA, hopes to reduce ethnic infant mortality to six by 2020. The Community Action Initiative looks to collaborate with community members and key stakeholders to help lower Black infant mortality. A Perionatal Periods of Risk Analysis (PPOR) conducted by Catherine Kothari and her research team, showed that the primary risk factor associated with Black infant mortality was maternal health, which is mother’s health before, during, and after pregnancy. Further analysis showed that the primary risk factor associated with maternal health was unplanned pregnancies. Teenage and unplanned pregnancies remain a huge public health burden, as the teenage pregnancy rate in Kalamazoo County is 47%. Currently, Michigan does not mandate sexual education to be implemented as a requirement to graduate, and schools that provide sexual education do not stress increased contraceptive use as part of the content for sexual education. In order to lower Black infant mortality rates, more emphasis is needed on providing comprehensive sexual education to the younger generation, and in order to ensure positive health outcomes for teenagers or women who have had unplanned pregnancies, increased efforts are needed on implementing family health clinics that provide psychological, mental and social support for woman. Continue reading The Implementation of Increased Preventative Efforts and Comprehensive Sexual Education Programs

Postnatal Care

By Madeline LeVasseur

Postnatal care involves an immensely critical time in the life of a newborn and its mother. Over two-thirds of all newborn deaths occur in their first week of life, and half of these deaths occur in the first twenty-four hours. In Kalamazoo, the disparity in infant mortality between black and white babies makes this first period of life even more crucial to addressing the rate of black infant mortality in our community. In focus groups with community members, Black mothers have expressed shared feelings of being rushed through this vital period of care after giving birth. Healthcare workers expressed speculations about the degree of respect that mothers are receiving in Kalamazoo and discussed the negative impact of not having a racially diverse staff to interact with a racially diverse community. To address the problem of black infant mortality in the context of postnatal care, we recommend increasing the amount of care after delivery with increased home visits to mothers and their newborns. Furthermore, it is recommended that health facilities require racism training for all staff in order that the relationship between mothers and healthcare professionals be significantly improved. Continue reading Postnatal Care

Cultural Competence

By Kelsey Hill

Cultural competence refers to a program’s ability to honor and respect those beliefs, interpersonal styles, attitudes and behaviors both of families who are clients and the multicultural staff who are providing services. In doing so, it incorporates these values at the levels of policy, administration and practice (Roberts, 1990). This article includes research from focus group data and cultural competence literature to assess the degree of cultural competency in Kalamazoo healthcare professionals. The author argues that cultural competency is needed in the Kalamazoo community to better suit black mothers and in regards to services and education and improve health outcomes.

Continue reading Cultural Competence

Support through Grief: A Process Dismissed

By Mele Makalo

In Kalamazoo, black infant mortality is a pressing issue that demands continued community examination, dialogue, and action. While black infant mortality is not a recent problem in Kalamazoo, the collective community attention towards acknowledging and addressing the issue is. The unfortunate reality that from 2000 – 2012, the county’s mortality rate for white infants was 5.7 deaths per one one thousand births while there were 18.2 deaths per one thousand black infants highlights the critical value of collective community dialogue and engagement in and with the issue of black infant mortality in Kalamazoo.

Continue reading Support through Grief: A Process Dismissed