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Infant Mortality

Fellowship Story Showcase

Infant Mortality

Picture of Shamane Mills

Wisconsin has one of the highest rate of deaths for African-American newborns in the nation. In a special, three-part series produced by reporter Shamane Mills, the factors behind this devastating trend are examined.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Part I: Fighting the Trend

When 35 states reported infant mortality rates in 2004, Wisconsin ranked last. Its rate of African-American infant deaths was the worst. This longstanding, troubling trend has been difficult to turn around. But one community has. Shamane Mills has the first of three reports about infant issue that officials say is an indication of larger problems, and costly for society to bear. 

Left: Four-year-old Morgan Peterson looks at an isolette, the same kind of incubator she was in at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison after being born prematurely. Next to her is her mother, Kristen, who is explaining that Morgan was once as small as the doll. They were attending a reunion put on by St. Mary’s for families whose children were in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Part II: Blanket of Love


Milwaukee's teen pregnancy rate is among the highest in the nation. Babies born to teens are more likely die while they are still infants. Improving the health of young, inexperienced mothers and their babies is part of the effort to reduce infant deaths in Wisconsin. Shamane Mills reports on a program in Milwaukee called "Blanket of Love" …


Companion Feature: Elizabeth House Provides Family Environment for New Moms


Other cities have similar programs designed to help new mothers cope. Some actually go so far as to provide food, clothing and housing. One program run by Care Net Pregnancy Center of Dane County has set up a household for young single mothers. It's based on a family environment…



Part III: Keeping Newborns Safe at Home


Health officials don't know all the reasons why some babies die. They do, however, know some risk factors, including tobacco, alcohol and co-sleeping. Shamane Mills reports on how the state is trying to getting pregnant women and new moms to change behavior, and what obstacles they face.…



This series on infant mortality was produced with the assistance of the USC Annenberg/California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, administered by the USC Annenberg School for Communication.