Getting the Right Start in Detroit

Jane Zehnder-Merrell

Last week neighborhoods within the city of Detroit were able to get a snapshot of maternal and infant health in their community through the report Right Start in Detroit from a new information source called Data Driven Detroit, a data clearinghouse for the city’s neighborhoods.

The report highlighted some dramatic differences among the 39 areas identified in the report.  For example, just under half the mothers of newborns in Conner had received adequate prenatal care compared with almost three-quarters in Rosedale Park. It’s important for community and city decision makers to examine the probable causes behind these numbers and develop appropriate responses to improve the situation.

The circumstances in which a child is born shape not only the early years but often have lifelong consequences. If Detroit and its communities want to have a healthier, better-educated workforce, efforts must begin at the beginning to improve the lives of infants and their mothers.

We hope to see the Right Start in Detroit, produced in collaboration with the Detroit Health Department, become a regular feature tracking outcomes for Detroit infants and their mothers, allowing communities to assess the impact of changes in policy and programs, as well as in the social and economic environment. These data provide a critical tool for neighborhood advocates and city leaders.

— Jane Zehnder-Merrell

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