Memphis ranks worst in the nation for woeful rate of infant deaths
When I read the statement above in Sunday’s paper I had to stop, take a breath and read it again…I was speechless. The Commercial Appeal published a Special Report in Sunday’s paper regarding the high infant mortality rate of babies in Memphis, TN. The city has the highest infant mortality rate among the nation’s 60 largest cities.
The statistics are startling. It takes a moment to digest the fact that so many harmless babies die in Memphis each year before they even learn to walk. According to a 2002 federal report Memphis has 15 deaths for every 1,000 babies born. According to statistics an infant dies in Shelby County every 43 hours. This news is not only saddening, but it is depressing.
Why are so many babies dying in Memphis? And why do the statistics show that black Black mothers nationwide are more than twice as likely to lose a child before age 1 than other women?
The area with the highest infant death rates in Memphis are within the cities’ zip code 38108. Zip code 38108 which is part of North Memphis, includes the neighborhoods of Douglass and Hollywood. This area has higher infant death rates than some Third World countries where babies die from serious malnutrition, illnesses and poor overall health care. This North Memphis neighborhood has a largely black population that struggles with issues of poverty and high crime rates. Teen pregnancy is at an alarming rate and young mothers often don’t have the knowledge, skills or money to carry, birth and raise healthy babies.
Over the years various programs have been set up to inform the public about healthier behaviors, parenting skills for mothers and knowledge about babies from pregnancy to childhood in efforts to reduce the infant mortality rate in Memphis. Many of these programs have diminished however some are still being operated and are trying to save the babies. Programs such as Community Voice and Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative (IMRI) | All Babies Count aim to increase public awareness through education and outreach. These programs provide information and/or assistance to the general public and pregnant mothers.
If you would like more information concerning the Memphis Infant Mortality Rate or just Infant Mortality in general here are a few helpful links