A Black Maternal and Child Health Alliance of Dane County has been formed to address high rates of low birth weight and infant mortality among Black babies in the county.
The 21-member group, announced Thursday, is led by Dr. Tiffany Green, a UW-Madison obstetrician-gynecologist, and Alia Stevenson, chief programs officer with the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness.
It’s the latest effort to improve the reproductive, maternal and newborn health of the county’s Black population after the foundation started working with the Dane County Health Council on the issue three years ago.
“The Black Maternal and Child Health Alliance is comprised of Black women serving in important roles in health care, our community, and as decision-makers and knowledge experts. Our highest priority is to ensure that the health and well-being of Black mothers remains front and center,” Green and Stevenson said in a statement.
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Black mothers in the county are more than twice as likely as white mothers to have infants with low birth weight, and Wisconsin ranks first in the nation for Black infant mortality, the group said.
In 2016-18, the black infant mortality rate in the county was 12 deaths per 1,000 births, compared to 4.3 deaths per 1,000 births for white babies. The rate was 7.8 for Hispanics and 4.4 for Asians.
Stressed families, economic struggles and institutional racism are key contributors to the disparities, according to a report last year by the council and the foundation. The report was based on nine months of focus groups and surveys involving nearly 300 black women, black men and health care and social services providers.
The Dane County Health Council includes Access Community Health Centers, Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, Madison School District, Public Health Madison and Dane County, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, United Way of Dane County, UnityPoint Health-Meriter and UW Health.