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Fetal remains a bleak reflection of high infant mortality in Detroit



When investigators looked for answers to why dozens of fetuses were hidden in boxes in two Detroit funeral homes, the city's high infant mortality rate could provide clues.

Detroit's infant mortality rate is approximately 12.7 per 1,000 live births in 2016, according to the latest data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. That's more than twice the national rate of 5.9 per 1,000 live births.

In Wayne County, the Ministry of Health reported an infant mortality rate of 8.6 per 1,000 live births in 2016. This year, 120 infants and 200 infants died in Wayne County in Detroit, said Lynn Sutfin, a spokeswoman for the state agency.

And while Michigan shows a steady improvement in public health, race-based disparities persist in the results.

More: Couple sued Detroit Funeral Home for missing remains of infants after 63 fetuses found in boxes, freezers

More: Police: Fetus remnants found in another funeral home

Angie Winton President of Metro Detroit Share, a support group for families who have suffered child mortality, said she often spoke to Detroit women who want to attend support meetings. but have no transport.

"The unfortunate part of the really low-income areas, they lack resources to get anywhere," she said. "It's a huge problem."

The group has worked with both Perry Funeral Home and the Cantrell Funeral Home in the past and has helped families fund funeral arrangements. Winton added that they are often contacted directly by hospitals or families, but the funeral directors could have contacted them if their clients needed financial support.

The National Board of Health reports that the black infant mortality rate has consistently remained higher than the white infant mortality rate ̵

1; "a persistent racial disparity of about 2.8 black deaths for every 1 white death," Health and Human Services said. "In 2016, the infant mortality rate was 4.8 per 1,000 live births, while the black rate was 13.3 per 1,000 live births."

In 2016, Michigan's mortality rate increased from 11 deaths per 1,000 to 14 deaths per 1,000 births – the first two in two decades to exceed the infant black mortality rate.

Other factors include, according to Health and Human Services:

Age: Moms between the ages of 30 and 39 had the lowest infant mortality rates, mothers under 20 had the highest infant mortality rate [19659002] Marital status: The infant mortality rate for unmarried women was about twice that of married mothers

Passive smoke: Mothers exposed to passive smoking had an infant mortality rate of 8.7 per 1,000 live births – the rate was 5, 5 for mothers who were not exposed to passive smoking.

According to a spokeswoman for the Detroit Health Department, two main factors that have led to high infant mortality rates in the city are premature birth and low birth weight.

Winton said she suffered two casualties, one very early in life and another that she was pregnant for 37½ weeks.

"I had the baby shower, had finished the nursery … and then she stopped moving." She said. "I did not think that could happen to me."

"If you have not gone through a loss, you do not understand the total shock and despair and emotional torment you are experiencing."

Working in Mourning Winton said she had met with women who often said they did not obey or feel dismayed when they worried their doctors.

"I think women know their body better than doctors sometimes," she said. "I just heard so many stories from mothers who said, 'I was really worried, but they told me it was alright … and later it was too late.'" [196592002] Winton said she often tells women that they did it to be their own advocate, to demand good care, and to work with a doctor who takes their worries and feelings into account.

Copyright 2017 USATODAY.com


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