Story by John W Davis
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Organizers say the goal of a special town hall meeting held Tuesday Night was to increase community awareness, so fewer minority infants die each year in Allen County.
It has been studied by researchers as far away as Wisconsin.
African-American infants are dying at alarming rates in Allen County.
According to a University of Wisconsin report, African-American infant mortality rates are 30% higher in Allen County than in foreign countries like Honduras, Indonesia and Nicaragua.
Allen County health commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan echos that data.
Dr. McMahan says in 2006, 31 African-American babies out of every 1,000 live births died before their first birthday.
Nationally, risk factors like low birth weights, SIDS, and a lack pre-natal care cause most infant deaths.
However studies in Allen County have shown none of those issues were factors locally.
"We want to educate. We want to identify resources that are available in the community. We also want to form an ad hoc committee to address the issue with an on going effort to find solutions and close the gap," said Jomare Bowers-Mizzell, who is a Project Coordinator for Health Visions, the faith-based community health organization that sponsored Tuesday's town hall meeting.
The infant mortality town hall meeting was held at the Allen County Public Library Pontiac Branch.
Dr. McMahan says she plans to partner with medical professionals and Health Visions to create a community task force.
They hope to figure out why local infants are dying before their first birthday and identify local resources mothers with young infants.
This article was originally published in INCNow.