There are babies born in some Memphis zip codes that have less of a chance of living than in third world countries.
Valencia Nelson of the March of Dime says Memphis has long ranked as having the highest infant mortality rate in the country, sometimes twice the national average, "We have to understand the genetic aspects of it, the biological aspects of it as well as social aspects."
Nelson is partnering with the Urban Child Institute to form a local chapter of The Birthing Project. Nelson says that is an international group that reaches out to teach at risk mothers through media campaigns and one one one, "Partner with a young pregnant girl and mentor her throughout that pregnancy."
The black community has the highest infant death rate by far, Nelson says there several reasons for that including the young age of many expectant mothers, "Understand the importance of taking folic acid, understand the importance of not smoking during pregnancy, not utilizing alcohol. And not to just to understand those things but where to go to get treatment or support." In addition to the emotional toll, there is a financial one. Most of the at risk babies end up here at the MED. The cost to treat a healthy baby is $20,000. To treat a baby that is sick and may die is 70,000 plus.
For many, the cost is the last thing on their minds.
Stopping the problem is first and foremost and it's something they say needs to start at home with the help they provide.