By ANJANA SCHROEDER
Capital News Service
LANSING – While the infant mortality rate in Michigan is one of the highest in the nation, experts say the disparity in racial and ethnic groups is equally alarming. “The clearest issue to us is the huge difference in the health disparity by racial and ethnic groups,” said Paulette Dunbar, the manager of the Maternal, Infant and Family Health section at the Department of Community Health. According to the department, for every 1,000 babies born in Michigan, approximately five Caucasian and seven Hispanic babies die, compared to 14 African American babies who die before their first birthday. The state average is 7.1. Dunbar said in the late 1990s, the department started to identify what groups of residents were contributing to the infant mortality rate more than others.