Public Health Collaborative Receives $500,000 Grant to Study Declining Infant Mortality Rate

September 17, 2008

Dane County Infant Mortality Rate Decreases by 70%

Public Health of Madison and Dane County will receive a $500,000 grant to study a dramatic decline in the infant mortality rate in Madison and Dane County.

Nationwide, the U.S. continues to see one of the highest infant mortality rates of industrialized countries, especially among African Americans. In Wisconsin, infant mortality rates for African Americans are well over the national average.

However, in contrast with national trends, infant mortality rates for African Americans in Dane County have decreased by 70% since the 1990s - a trend experts have seen in only one other city in the nation.

"The grant will allow us to study the incredible decline in infant mortality in Dane County and apply lessons learned here to improve birth outcomes in other communities in Wisconsin and across the country," Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said.

"We in Dane County invest in the most comprehensive human services in the state. Proactively working with families through programs like the Early Childhood Initiative and Joining Forces for Families helps make a difference," County Executive Kathleen Falk said.

Administered by the Medical Education and Research Committee of the UW School of Medicine, the grant provides $500,000 for a three year project. This project will be a joint effort of Public Health of Madison and Dane County, the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, City of Racine Health Department, and diverse faculty from the UW.

The collaborative group will investigate the determinants of improved birth outcomes in African Americans in Dane County, work to preserve and extend what has been effective in Madison and Dane County and inform other communities in Wisconsin to improve population health, public programs and policy.

"Radical improvements in infant health in Madison and Dane County over recent years have had enormous local impact. Dozens of deaths and life-long disabilities have been prevented and millions of dollars have been saved. We need to discover the driving forces behind these trends to protect and sustain them and to share them with the rest of the state and nation," Dr. Tom Schlenker, Executive Director of Public Health of Madison and Dane County said.

Contact:
  • Rachel Strauch-Nelson, 266-4611