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Kalamazoo’s babies of color DIE 4x MORE than white babies

About Us

Cradle Kalamazoo, formerly known as the Kalamazoo Infant Mortality Community Action Initiative (KIMCAI), is a multi-agency community initiative led by YWCA Kalamazoo. This initiative is based on the work of many community members and organizations, including Dr. Arthur James who brought attention to and began working on the racial disparities in infant mortality in 1992. By bringing together community leaders and organizations to implement evidence-based and holistic interventions, our goal is to reduce infant death and promote respect for families, women and their children.

The death of a baby before their first birthday is called infant mortality. The infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths that occur for every 1,000 live births. Infant mortality affects all of us because we are all a part of this community. This rate is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a community. The factors affecting the health of entire populations can also impact the death of infants. Kalamazoo has an alarmingly high infant mortality rate for babies of color. This is not who we are as a community, and we have everything we need to improve the lives of all Kalamazoo babies.

The Kalamazoo County infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the State of Michigan. While the overall infant mortality rate has decreased in the last 30 years, the disparity among babies of color and white babies has increased. In Kalamazoo, babies of color are four times more likely to die before their first birthday than their white neighbors. Cradle Kalamazoo’s mission is to get the support to those who need it the most. We work with women and families that are at high risk due to economic factors, previous adverse birth outcomes, and/or race.

Our Vision: Reduce the infant mortality rate among babies of color in Kalamazoo to 3.0 (per 1,000 live births) by 2020.



Cradle Kalamazoo’s goal is to reduce infant death and promote respect for families, women and their children. We plan on doing this by:

  1. Ensuring health equity of programs, policies, and providers
  2. Building a perinatal home visitation network
  3. Promoting and educating about infant safe-sleep programs
  4. Providing reproductive health education and support

Through continuous data collection and evaluation of key indicators by Cradle Kalamazoo partners, together we strive to identify and assist at risk pregnancies and infants in Kalamazoo County. This information will guide us in updating and evolving programs to better serve our community.

Here is some of the research Cradle Kalamazoo is using to support our work —

Cathy Kothari, PhD with the support of Kalamazoo County Healthy Babies Healthy Start, performed an Infant Mortality Trend Analysis. In this study, Dr. Kothari found:

  • In Kalamazoo, babies of color are 4x more likely to die before their first birthday than their white neighbors.
  • Babies of color are affected across income. Babies of color from higher income families are twice as likely to die before their first birthday than their lower income white neighbors.
  • Although infant mortality is high among all infants of color, the reasons infants die varies based on their family’s income. Many lower-income infants of color are dying from sleep-related causes and higher income infants of color are dying largely due to prematurity.
  • The race of the infant affects infant mortality risk more than their family’s socioeconomic status.
  • Most infant deaths are preventable. Through specialized interventions, racial disparities in infant death can be reduced and eventually eliminated.


Cradle Kalamazoo Partners
Cradle Kalamazoo would not have been possible without the dedication and support of many individuals and the following organizations

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