Milwaukee had 499 infant deaths between 2005 and 2008. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blogs surrounding the most recent tragedy are a torrent of blaming and hating with almost no attention to the wellbeing of children.

The absence of concern for children or ideas for making life safer for Milwaukee’s at risk babies is disturbing.

In the case above, the mother apparently did not smoke, drink heavily, or use drugs. The medical examiners report said the mother’s apartment was clean and well equipped with baby supplies.

The public reaction when a baby dies or is found in a dumpster should be one of sadness and a desire to see that children are safer in their community. Something like, “what can we do to see that this does not happen again?”

As a long time guardian ad-Litem, I have come to know troubled parents and realize that the issues impacting them and their children are often addressable through education, health, and mental health services.

Even in these hard economic times our communities and this nation have the ability to reach out to young families and troubled children to provide education and basic services to provide a safe environment.

We make this choice each time we vote; Day care, early childhood programs, health & mental health services, make for safer and happier families, children, schools, and communities.

Blaming and hating creates only more pain and solves nothing. Be constructive…, do something to help those children that need help.

Vote for child friendly initiatives and the people and programs that support them.

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Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan K. Baker vowed Monday to place infant mortality at the top of the city’s health agenda, and Mayor Tom Barrett called for a communitywide effort to reduce the rate at which Milwaukee children die before their first birthday.

The news conference at the Southside Health Center announcing the efforts was a short drive from where a 5-month-old baby died Sunday while sleeping beside her mother in an adult bed.

Near the podium from which Barrett and Baker spoke was a poster used by the city in its Safe Sleep campaign.

It was a life-size photo of an adult bed with a gravestone for a headboard.

Engraved in the stone: “For too many babies last year, this was their final resting place.”

“We will have to change,” Barrett said. “But real change requires real commitment. If we are serious about turning this around, then it is going to take each and every one of us.”

The purpose of the news conference was to release the city’s 2010 Fetal Infant Mortality Report, which examines the 499 infant deaths that occurred in Milwaukee from 2005 to 2008.

A story in Sunday’s Journal Sentinel, titled “Empty Cradles,” used the report and other sources to place Milwaukee’s infant mortality crisis in context.

The story found:

• Babies in Milwaukee die at rate greater than in all but six of the nation’s 53 largest cities.

• Black infants die in Milwaukee at about 2.5 times the white rate.

• In some parts of Milwaukee, the infant mortality rate is higher than in the Gaza Strip.

Barrett noted from the report that complications from prematurity account for more than half of all infant deaths.

Sudden infant death syndrome, including unsafe sleep and accidental suffocation, accounted for nearly one in five deaths.

Barrett said the city would play host to a summit on premature births in May.

Baker called the city’s infant mortality rate a crisis, but one that can be addressed.

“This is something we can do,” he said. “This is something we must do.

“The Health Department will make this our major health issue in the years ahead,” he said.

The baby who died Sunday is the second Milwaukee infant this year to die while sleeping with an adult.

The child’s mother, a nursing student, told investigators that it is her custom to sleep with her daughter to facilitate breast feeding. She had recently begun feeding the girl formula and was beginning to place the child in her own crib, according to a medical examiner’s report.

The mother told investigators that she was playing with her daughter late Saturday and the child fell asleep in the mother’s bed, according to the medical examiner’s report.

The mother covered the baby with three comforters, which she pulled up to the girl’s chest, according to the report.

The mother told investigators that she does not smoke, drink heavily or use drugs.

The medical examiner’s report said the mother’s apartment was clean and well equipped with baby supplies. There were no signs of smoking or alcohol use.

The city Health Department recommends that children sleep alone, in a crib, on their back, without blankets and toys and with a tight fitting sheet.