03:25 AM

Wyandotte County Attacks High Infant Mortality Rate

After Ashley Anderson gave birth to her daughter, Jade Marie, the nurses placed the little girl on her mom's chest.

She says she remembers her newborn looking serene, with delicate lashes, her eyes gently closed. The heart-breaking truth - as Anderson had learned during the delivery - was that Jade had died in the womb.

"I just couldn't believe she wasn't breathing," Anderson said. "She just looked like she was sleeping."

Jade would have been a year old in May, but Anderson is far from the only mom in Wyandotte County who must celebrate filial milestones with only their memories. Wyandotte is one of just three Kansas counties where infant deaths reached triple digits combined between the years 2009 and 2013, according to statistics from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

But more than two years after receiving a $300,000 grant to get at the root of its infant-mortality problem, the county is making strides in identifying solutions through a Fetal and Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) program, which includes detailed interviews with mothers.

"The exciting thing about Wyandotte County is that there is so much emphasis on community health, with the mayor's office, with some of the local neighborhood groups, with the faith-based community, it seems like the right time to really push a lot of efforts forward," said Dr. Michelle Haley, a Children's Mercy pediatrician working on the program. "My hope is that we are able to collaborate through all of those efforts.

Read more via KCUR