Cradle Kalamazoo Focuses On Infant Deaths

Dec 3, 2018

A 2016 file photo of a "baby box" given to mothers who deliver infants at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia as part of an effort to reduce infant mortality
Credit Matt Rourke / AP Photo

A group in Kalamazoo hopes to cut the area's high infant mortality rate for poor and minority families.

Alyssa Stewart s on the governing board of Cradle Kalamazoo. She says its top priority is helping women and families who need it the most. Stewart says that means educating families, including those who've recently lost a child, about the risks of infant mortality.

Stewart says suffocation after being put to bed incorrectly is the leading cause of infant death. She says that's frustrating because it’s completely preventable.

“We are seeing deaths occurring and they are occurring because a baby is being placed on a couch, for example, or a recliner, or is co- sleeping with a family member.”

Stewart says Cradle Kalamazoo’s answer is called "Safe Sleep." It shows families the proper way to put their children to bed.

Stewart says Cradle Kalamazoo uses volunteers from the community to visit those who can’t attend workshops. She says they help families raise their babies safely. But Stewart says those families aren’t responsible for the problem.

“This is not an issue that is caused by the families that are experiencing these deaths. This issue is really a circumstance of our community and our systems not serving those who need it most.”

Stewart says Cradle Kalamazoo hopes to reduce infant deaths in target families to a fourth of their current level by 2020.

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