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Program will try to reduce infant mortality rate in state

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Program will try to reduce infant mortality rate in state
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

A new $10 million campaign will try to reduce Wisconsin's infant mortality rate.

The focus will be in Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Beloit, which have the highest death rates for African-American babies in their first years.

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In Racine, 23 of every 1,000 black babies die before age 1. That's more than four times the statewide average for white infants.

Phil Farrell, a former dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, calls it a "silent tragedy, and it's time to do something about it."

It's a five-year effort, but Farrell says it will have to be two-to-three times that long to reduce infant mortality, much of which is said to be caused by inner-city poverty.

Lorraine Lathen, who co-chairs the project's steering committee, says one of the best ways to reduce infant mortality is to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

And that goes beyond sex education, to foster role models and achievable goals for teens.

The program's funding will come from an endowment created when the state's former Blue Cross and Blue Shield became a for-profit company.

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