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I Will Not Write a Blog for Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kimberly Seals Allers

This is not a blog for infant mortality awareness month. Something so weighty deserves more than to be relegated to web log. I will not make any witty observations. I will not use any metaphors, similes, idioms, or analogies. There will be no alliteration or onomatopoeia used to help you get it.

There will be no opinions, only facts. The jarring sort that aren't typically welcome in a blog. This will not be entertaining. You will probably not "Like" this.

This is my virtual moment of silence for the babies who needlessly die every year. This is my silent cry in the blogosphere for greater awareness in the African American community where our babies are 2.3 more likely to die before their first birthday than in the white community. This risk exists for all black women regardless of income or education.

This is my anti-blog for the unborn who deserve to live to see their first birthday and my homage to those who didn't.

  • Currently, the national infant mortality rate for Black babies is 13.7 per 1,000, compared to a rate of 5.6 per 1000 for White babies, 3.5 per 1000 for Asian babies, and 5.3 to 6 per 1000 for Latino babies.
  • Black babies are four times as likely to die as infants due to complications related to low birth weight as compared to non-Hispanic white infants.
  • African Americans have 2.3 times the infant mortality rate as non-Hispanic whites.
  • African Americans had 1.8 times the sudden infant death syndrome mortality rate as non-Hispanic whites.
  • College- and graduate-school educated black mothers have a higher infant mortality rate than white moms who didn't finish high school.
  • The infant mortality rate for African American mothers with over 13 years of education was almost three times that of non-Hispanic white mothers.
  • Black women who get prenatal care in the first trimester have double the infant mortality rate of white mothers with first-trimester care.
  • Only 17 percent of all U.S. births were to African-American families, but 33 percent of all low-birth weight babies were African-American, according to one report.
  • Black women with similar levels of prenatal care as Hispanic women (generally less educated and with lower incomes than blacks) have higher rates of low birth weight, preterm deliveries, and infant mortality.
  • According to Dr. Michael Lu, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and public health at UCLA, researchers have found that even when they control for such varied factors as poverty, housing, employment, medical risk, abuse, social support and so on, 90 percent of the differences in birth weight between black and white moms remains unaccounted for.

"Most studies have looked at black-white differences during pregnancy, for example, differences in prenatal care utilization or maternal behavior," he says. "What we're finding is that these differences really explain very little of the disparities in birth outcomes."

 

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Another very sobering and disturbing fact is that African American women are themselves more likely to die as a result of pregnancy or its management. The MATERNAL mortality rate in California is 3.3 times higher for African American women than for women of other race/ethnicity. See http://www.cmqcc.org/maternal_mortality and scroll down for the graph. Maternal morbidity is a leading cause of infant morbidity/mortality, and again, the rates are higher for African American women. We need to understand the type and quality of care women receive both prenatally and in hospitals. thanks for your non-blog on this important issue.

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