KANSAS CITY, Kan. - So many infants die before their first birthday in Wyandotte Co. that health leaders are stepping in to find out why.
The county has the highest infant mortality rate in Kansas, which has the highest rate of any state in the nation.
In the Armourdale neighborhood alone, 17 in 1,000 babies will not live to see their first birthday.
“When you have that high of a loss in your community, it tells you the health of your community,” said Terrie Garrison, a worker from the Unified Government Public Health Department.
The county has launched Project Hope -- a federal program aimed to help understand infant mortality rates in the area and possible causes.
The program includes a community action team with volunteers who will think of practical ways to help families, such as adding more bus routes to go directly to doctor’s offices and hospitals.
There’s also a nurse on hand to provide support for families after a baby dies.
That kind of support was essential for Gabrielle Harris, who lost her son Ashton to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
“I didn’t know what to do after he had passed,” she said, “I didn’t know how to get back to school and finish."
Anyone who wants to participate in the program can attend the first meeting set on Thursday, April 16 from 10-11:30 a.m. at the John F. Kennedy Community Center located at 1310 N. 10th Street in Kansas City, Kan.
For a more extensive look at infant mortality rates around Kansas, click here.