When her daughter was born weighing just 1 ½ pounds, Dr. Jasmine Zapata experienced firsthand the danger she now spends her professional life battling: Wisconsin’s stubbornly high rate of preterm birth and mortality, especially among Black babies.
Zapata works at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health as a pediatrician and public health researcher. For the last two years, she also has served as the state epidemiologist for maternal and child health and chronic diseases at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).
Her second child, born prematurely at just 25 weeks of gestation, faced several life-threatening illnesses in the neonatal intensive care unit. As Zapata knows better than most, complications caused by prematurity are the leading cause of Black infant mortality in Wisconsin.