Mayor Duggan and Dr. Khaldun announce historic drop in infant mortality rate in City of Detroit – 2019 had the lowest rate in more than 20 years

Mayor Duggan and Dr. Khaldun announce historic drop in infant mortality rate in City of Detroit – 2019 had the lowest rate in more than 20 years

  • The historic racial gap in infant mortality narrowed dramatically in 2019
  • Mayor and Dr. Khaldun thank all partners in the Detroit community
  • City offers free transportation to prenatal appointments; Mayor puts out call for women to sign up as SisterFriends program mentors

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan’s top health official, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, today reported a historic drop in Detroit’s infant mortality rate.  According to new state data, the rate of babies born in Detroit that do not live to see their first birthday is the lowest it has been in decades after seeing the steepest drop in more than 20 years.   

According to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services data, Detroit’s infant mortality rate plunged from 16.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018 to 11 per 1,000 live births in 2019, representing a one-third rate reduction. Also promising is a significant closing of the disparity between black babies and white babies dying before their first birthday. In 2018 the rate was 18.9 for black babies compared to 6.4 for white babies. In 2019, that gap closed dramatically with a rate of 12.3 for black babies and 9.7 for white babies.

Mayor Duggan and Dr. Khaldun credited a communitywide effort among a wide group of government, private health care, and nonprofit organizations that have worked for years – in some cases decades – to improve the odds of survival for babies born in Detroit, including:

  • Detroit Regional Infant Mortality Reduction Task Force
  • Region 10 Southeastern Michigan Perinatal Quality Improvement Coalition (SEMPQIC)
  • Women Inspired Neighborhood-Network (WIN)
  • Make Your Date
  • Doula based and Midwifery Programs
  • Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association
  • Detroit Infant Mortality Program ( St. Johns Providence)
  • School Health Clinics
  • Great Start Collaborative
  • SisterFriends Detroit

Mayor Duggan gave Dr. Khaldun particular credit for the progress. Her plan - launched in late 2017 when she was Detroit’s public health director - to team up Wayne State’s Make Your Date program with the Detroit Health Department’s Sister Friends program was made successful by the commitment to the Baby Lyft program. State Health Department surveys showed 25% of pregnant African American moms did not get first-trimester prenatal care because of lack of transportation.

Mayor Duggan also credited the vision of Dr. Abdul El-Sayed for his vision in the original creation of Detroit’s SisterFriends program.

Under Dr. Khaldun’s leadership, the City of Detroit for the first time funded rides for all pregnant moms’ prenatal appointments. This program was enormously popular and successful:

  • 723 rides provided
  • 5,452 rides provided
  • 6,226 rides provided

“We won’t know for certain all of the factors that led to the reduction in infant mortality in 2019, but want to make sure all Detroit moms-to-be get transportation,” Mayor Duggan said.

Sign up for SisterFriends at 313-961 BABY or


Make Your Date at 313-577-1000 or