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WSU's Dr. Sonia Hassan to lead mayor's infant mortality prevention taskforce

February 2, 2014

In March, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan will roll out a massive campaign to attack infant mortality in the city, he told The Detroit News Friday. Duggan's announcement follows a Detroit News study, published Thursday and Friday, that found a greater percentage of children 18 and younger die in Detroit than in any city in America its size or larger. The vast majority of those deaths occur before a child's first birthday. His initiative will focus on prevention of preterm birth, which accounts for the vast majority of infant deaths in the city. He has named Wayne State University Assistant Dean Dr. Sonia Hassan to lead the effort. Hassan is director of advanced obstetrical care and research for the National Institutes of Health's Perinatology Research Branch. "We have been working on it for three months and are excited to launch it," Hassan said Friday. A major cause of preterm birth is shortness of the cervix, the narrow passage at the base of the uterus through which a baby passes to be born. Hassan and other researchers from Wayne State University and the Perinatology Research Branch discovered that treating affected women with vaginal progesterone can reduce their chances of a preterm birth by as much as 45 percent. They are recommending universal cervical screening, and progesterone treatment where it's called for.