Infant mortality is the number of live-born infants who die before their first birthday, per 1,000 infants. In 2017, the national average was 5.8 per 1,000. The Michigan average was 6.8. And that number is not evenly distributed. In 2018, Black non-Hispanic infants had a mortality rate of 14.5. Additionally, 80-90 maternal deaths occur each year in Michigan.
There are several reasons for these statistics. First, many women face barriers to accessing prenatal and postpartum care. They may struggle to find or afford services, receive education on safe sleep and babyproofing, and more. This directly contributes to increased infant and maternal mortality rates. Second, pregnant and postpartum women face unique health challenges, including postpartum depression and cardiac conditions. When left undiagnosed or untreated, these conditions can increase maternal mortality rates.
The Mother-Infant Health & Equity Improvement Plan is Michigan's effort to address these needs. The MIHEIP led to the creation of Regional Perinatal Quality Collaboratives with a united goal: "RPQCs are charged with improving birth outcomes for moms, babies, and families through data-driven quality improvement projects that are tailored to the strengths and challenges of each region. The RPQCs utilize both community and clinical approaches by bringing together health care professionals, community partners, families, faith-based organizations, Great Start Collaboratives, home visiting agencies, and others in a unified, collaborative effort."
Region 6 is just one of 10 RPQCs in Michigan, but our collaboration is strong. We're comprised of Genesee, Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, Shiawassee, St. Clair, and Tuscola Counties. With representatives from multiple health departments, community organizations, WIC, and other groups, our team is bringing together resources and projects to reach as many mothers as we can.
Our priorities are engaging community members and mothers, educating more providers and health care workers on equity and implicit bias, and helping mothers access care changed by the pandemic. Another goal we've set is to complete an environmental scan of our area; we want to find as many relevant organizations as we can and share them in one convenient location. This way, mothers, partners, and parents can find the information and resources they need, all in one space.
If you're interested in joining our efforts as a mother, community member, stakeholder, or expert, please join R6 now.