Infant Mortality – the lifecourse in Dane County, WI

We often say that if *public health* is working, you don’t even notice it.

In Madison, WI and the surrounding area the disparity between black and white infant death is shrinking –  the infant mortality rate for blacks declining steeply since the early 1990’s – reaching parity with whites.  This is good news – but public health and medical officials are not sure that all the factors contributing to this important achievement are fully understood.  They report that during this time there were no major changes to the extent of prenatal care or medical technology.  Something is working.

An article published on 11/27/09 in the New York Times highlights what seems to be a  public health success story in Dane County, Wisconsin. Despite the steep decline in infant mortality observed in Dane county, nearby cities of Milwaukee and Racine have rates as high as 20 deaths per 1,000 live births – understanding the factors contributing to the success seen in Dane county has become an urgent issue.

The New York Times
November 27, 2009

The article suggests that perhaps the life-course perspective offers a framework to better understand the complex factors in the social milieu that impact women’s health – as well is infant mortality- and it describes the challenges associated with translating this success to other counties (including nearby Racine county) – and credits public health promotion efforts in Dane County for the decline in black infant death.   To read the full article:

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Birth Outcomes