Genesee County's infant death rate has dropped to an all-time low. According to the Michigan department of Community Health, Genesee County's infant death rate for 2010 was 5.7 per 1,000 live births, considerably less than the rate of 9.4 per 1,000 live births during 2009. The death of an infant (from birth to 1 year) is a sentinel event that serves as a measure of community's overall health as well as its social and economic well-being.

Most notable is the drop in the City of Flint African-American infant death rate. Flint's average infant death rate for 2010 was 7.5 per 1,000 live births, a decrease from 18.9 per 1,000 live births during 2009 and 12.6 in 2008. The Genesee County African-American infant death rate in 2010 was 7.9, a significant drop from the 2009 rate of 20.3 per 1,000 live births.

The disparity in death rates among African-American infants has historically been 2-3 times greater than that of white infants. For the first time, white infant deaths were greater than African-American infant deaths in the City of Flint. The 2010 City of Flint white infant death rate increased to 9.5 from 4.7 in 2009. Among all white infants in Genesee County, the 2010 rate was 4.8 compared to 5.2 in 2009.

Focused efforts among many Flint and Genesee County organizations are credited for the improved medical, social, and environmental services and conditions for African-American families. The infant mortality rate is well known as an indicator of overall heath, especially maternal health.

While infant deaths have been trending downward since 2007, only 2010 has shown a drastic reduction for African-Americans. It will take several years of trends before it is known if the 2010 rates were an anomaly or the beginning of substantial improvement. Of equal importance is the increase in the white infant death rate in Flint. this indicator requires more attention from the health and human service agencies to better understand the factors that contributed to this shift.

For more information about the activities underway to prevent infant deaths, contact the Genesee County Health Department at (810) 257-3612.