infant mortality

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

For expectant parents like Melissa and Michael Funaro, the prospect of a new baby evokes a host of emotions.

“You have this thing inside of you growing, and him and I created it,” Melissa says. “So it’s like, what’s he gonna look like?”

For future mother Karina Rivera, pregnancy is exhilarating.

“Everything’s exciting,” she says. “Just buying baby clothes, buying diapers. Looking at the diapers, and they’re so tiny.”

Jamie and Laura McCamish say the wait for their baby is almost too much to bear.

Big Cities Health Coalition

Last month the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recognized Kansas City for its efforts to improve public health with its Culture of Health prize.

Now a newly released report by the Big Cities Health Coalition comparing health outcomes in the country’s 26 biggest cities offers a boatload of data suggesting Kansas City has made strides in many areas but lags in others.

A new statistical summary by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment shows progress in reducing a long-standing health disparity between black and white Kansans: the death rate for babies in their first year of life.


Dave Burkhardt / The Hale Center for Journalism

After Ashley Anderson gave birth to her daughter, Jade Marie, the nurses placed the little girl on her mom’s chest.

She says she remembers her newborn looking serene, with delicate lashes, her eyes gently closed.

Todd Feeback / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT


Faced with a surprise pregnancy – and then feeling the pressure of transitioning from an independent woman to a new mom – Erica Hardin struggled mentally and financially after the birth of her daughter.

Much to her relief, Kansas City had a program aimed at reducing disparities in infant mortality and post-birth complications between minorities and the general population.

Known as Healthy Start, home visits through the program provided Hardin with everything from moral support to diapers and instructions on applying for food stamps.

Infant Mortality In Black Community Down But Still High

Jul 18, 2014
Anne Biswell / Mother & Child Health Coalition

Although the fetal and infant mortality rate in the Kansas City metropolitan area's black community is about double that of the white population, it has dropped dramatically since 2008.

That was the news delivered on Friday at a community forum on infant deaths in Kansas City hosted by the Mother & Child Health Coalition. The forum, at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center, was attended by dozens of nurses, doctors and public health workers.

Mike Sherry / The Hale Center For Journalism

Chloe Robinson was about the size of a bag of frozen spinach at birth. Born 15 weeks early and weighing only 1 pound, she spent her first eight months in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Kansas Hospital.

That was five years ago, and, one day last week, Chloe ran around a hallway at the hospital like any kid her age.

A new research brief by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment shows a slight increase in the infant mortality rate last year.

Infant mortality refers to babies who die before their first birthday. Although the trend has been downward, Kansas has exceeded the national infant mortality rate every year since 2003. 

KDHE Secretary Robert Moser says last year’s rate was 6.3 deaths per thousand live births.

“That’s relatively low, but unfortunately it’s up slightly from 2011,” says Moser.