MILWAUKEE — In Milwaukee, Black infants are three times more likely to die before their first birthday compared to white infants.
In a round table discussion led by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, community organizations and mothers joined to discuss the disparities mothers of color face during childbirth.
Tonda Thompson lost her son 72 hours after he was born and said she did not receive the proper care she or her baby deserved.
"I am a mother who has lost a child due to an inadequate service in the health care industry," Thompson said.
That loss ignited a fight within her. She created the National Coalition For Healthy Black Families, an organization that works to reduce the large gap in racial disparities in birth outcomes.
Last year in Milwaukee, there were 100 infant deaths. Of those, 19.5% were from the 53206 ZIP Code and 21.5% from 53223, according to infant mortality rates obtained from the Milwaukee Health Department.
Both areas are largely Black neighborhoods.
Sen. Baldwin discussed legislation that could help in a major way.
The first is the Perinatal Workforce Act.
Baldwin said the aim of the act is to improve access to maternity care by growing and diversifying the prenatal health workforce.
Health care officials say there are many reasons why mothers of color do not seek prenatal care, including lack of insurance coverage.
Another piece of legislation that could help with that is the MOMMIES Act.
The Mommies Act stands for Maximizing Outcomes for Moms through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement Services. It would expand Medicaid past 60 days following pregnancy.
"Extend it to a year and not only will it be a full year, but it wouldn't just be pregnancy-related health services. It would be comprehensive health care services," Baldwin said.
The women at the round table all agree that more needs to be done to protect families and mothers of color so they can reach their full potential.
"We're going to continue to fight and continue to fight for strong babies in our community," Thompson said.
The Mommies Act has been introduced and is awaiting action in the Senate Finance Committee.
The Perinatal Workforce Act also has been introduced and is awaiting action in the Senate Help Committee.