MILWAUKEE -- Mayor Barrett along with the Milwaukee Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families, City of Milwaukee Health Department, and Community Advocates launched a new phase of the citywide Strong Baby campaign Thursday.
"We all know that smoking can kill," Commissioner of Health Bevan Baker said.
“[But] we can fix this, we can drive down these rates. We can do something, this is 100 percent preventable," he continued.
The city of Milwaukee's focus on strong babies isn’t new, but the new phase of the campaign aims to raise awareness of the impact of secondhand smoke on premature births and sleep-related infant deaths.
"This is one of the most important preventable individual behaviors that directly affect the health of a pregnant woman, their developing baby, and infants and children," Mayor Barrett said.
With a message that “smoke-free homes promote strong babies” the campaign is calling on families to make their homes smoke-free for healthier birth outcomes and healthy infants. This is something the mayor described as crucial to not only the city but also the state because according to the Wisconsin interactive statistics on health, the rate of smoking among pregnant women is higher in Wisconsin compared to the rate in the United States.
“Since I’ve taken office, I’m proud to say that our infant mortality rate has decreased by 24 percent," Mayor Barrett said.
“[But] I am in no way satisfied by that because on average 100 infants die before their first birthday in Milwaukee," he continued.
From 2012 to 2015 tobacco use during pregnancy was documented in nearly 35% of infant deaths and exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy was documented in nearly 44% of infant deaths in Milwaukee.
That’s why Mayor Barrett along with dozens of other community partners consider this new phase of the city’s strong babies campaign so important. The new focus aims to raise awareness of the impact of secondhand smoke on premature births and sleep-related infant deaths.
“What’s different about this one is we’re starting right at the beginning," Darryl Davidson, a representative with the City of Milwaukee Health Department said.
"We’re talking about preconception. We want people to be concerned about the issue before the baby arrives," he continued.
The campaign will be seen on transit shelters citywide and there will also be a push to reach out directly to families.