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Thomas to Research Black Fathers’ Roles in Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes

A father holds up his smiling baby daughter to kiss her cheek
Father and daughter.

Black infant mortality is higher in Wisconsin than any other state in the nation, and maternal mortality is five times higher among Black women than White women in Wisconsin. A new UW-led research project will pursue a novel approach to address these persistent inequalities, directly engaging the voices and views of Black expectant fathers to understand how they can engage to promote maternal and infant health.

Dr. Alvin Thomas, assistant professor of Human Development and Family Studies, and Dr. Tova Walsh, of UW’s Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work, are co-PIs on the project, which they will lead in collaboration with the Milwaukee-based nonprofit African American Breastfeeding Network (AABN). The project won a Clinical & Community Outcomes Research Pilot Award from the UW–Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

“Fathers are a largely untapped but powerful resource for supporting Black mothers’ and babies’ health and wellbeing, and in Wisconsin, we clearly need all the help we can get on this priority,” says Dr. Thomas. “Our project will build from the experiences and input of Black expectant parents themselves to advance more father-inclusive programs for Black families, ultimately, we anticipate, improving their infant and maternal mortality outcomes.”

Initiative Launch June 18 press coverage:

FOX News 6

CBS 58

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Learn more about Dr. Thomas’s recent work on his Thomas Youth Resilience Lab website, and follow him on Twitter for related news and articles.