Infant mortality rates in The Bronx are among the highest in New York City. ‘Strollin’ for Life’ aims to help

Bronx Healthy Start Community Action Network Co-Director Alma Idehen talks about the issue and the organization’s upcoming initiatives to combat infant mortality.

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New York City’s infant mortality rate, or the number of deaths of children under one for every 1,000 live births, increased 7.7 percent from 3.9 in 2018 to 4.2 in 2019, according to the Summary of Vital Statistics report released by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in 2021. For people of color, the risk is even greater. The infant mortality rate is 3.3 times higher for Black people and 2.0 times higher for Hispanic people than in the White community.

Infant Mortality
Photo: AdobeStock

“If we continue to lose our babies at the rate that we’re going, it certainly is going to jeopardize our own existence and our own future,” said Alma Idehen, the co-director of the Bronx Healthy Start Community Action Network. “It’s important for us to have this social discourse and social engagement around promoting infant protection, as well as infant health equity, because we know that the African American population is suffering the highest burden of infant mortality across the country.”

The neighborhoods of the Bronx have some of the highest rates in New York City. Out of the 12 Bronx community districts, nine of them have rates above the city’s average infant mortality rate. East Tremont has the highest at 8.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, followed by 7.1 in Williamsbridge, 6.5 in Mott Haven, and 5.8 in Unionport, Soundview.

On September 21, The Bronx Healthy Start Community Action Network, along with community partners and elected officials, is co-hosting “Strollin’ for Life,” in Walter Gladwin (Tremont) Park on East 3rd and Tremont Avenue from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event seeks to both raise awareness about the issue of infant mortality plaguing mothers and babies of color in the Bronx and advocate for infant health equity.

Image: On September 21, The Bronx Healthy Start Community Action Network

During the event, community members will be able to talk directly to local organizations that serve women, infants and children, watch demonstrations on some of the ways to prevent infant deaths, and hear elected officials talk about how they will support mothers in the community. The organization will also lead a march around the park to spread literature around the community.

“We need everybody to stand up and say, ‘Every baby deserves to see their first birthday and beyond,’” Idehen said. “We want everyone to be aware that infant mortality is preventable. It happens everywhere. It is a Bronx imperative, and we need everyone to stand and hold each other and our elected officials accountable for making the kinds of changes that are important to save babies’ lives. “

The organization will also be hosting a resource fair and panel session with elected officials and medical professionals in Williamsbridge later in the month. 

Kayla Grant

Kayla Grant is a multimedia journalist with bylines in Business Insider, Shondaland, Oz Magazine, Prism, Rolling Out and more. She writes about culture, books and entertainment news. Follow her on Twitter: @TheKaylaGrant.

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