Bringing Awareness to Black Infant Mortality
Project - CLOSE THE GAP
What is infant mortality:
Infant mortality is defined as the untimely passing of an infant before their first birthday.
What is infant mortality rate:
The rate is the number of infant losses for every 1,000 live births.
What is the Black infant mortality rate:
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (2021) and the Centers of Disease Control (2020). Black infant mortality rate in 2018 was 10.8% compared to white infant mortality rate of being 4.6%.
What are the leading causes of Black infant mortality:
Low birth weight
Sudden infant death syndrome
Why does awareness matter?
Research has demonstrated systemic stressors during pregnancy have a profound impact on Black families and their birth outcomes. For decades, the Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Health Services have all demonstrated through evidence Black families must receive care that is culturally congruent accessible care with community perinatal providers and educators. Failing to address racism as the foundation of continued outcomes results in the continued gap between black infant mortality and their counterparts.
Is Black infant mortality a public health crisis?
Yes. Every public health department holds the RESPONSIBILITY to advocate the wellbeing for EACH community that it serves. This translates to establishing equitable community safeguards that contribute to preventing and improving infant mortality. To include the assessment of race based outcomes. The rate in which infants die within a community is considered a determinate of health for that entire community. In other words, if babies are dying at higher rates from birth to the 12 months, we must begin to examine the contributing factors specific to that community and determine how these loses can be prevented. In short, YES, black infant mortality IS a public health crisis and it is time for us to RING the ALARM and hold public health departments accountable.
The CDC currently identifies the top five causes of black infant mortality as:
#1 - Low birth weight (education and preventable)
#2 - Congenital malformations (screenings and education)
#3 - Sudden infant death syndrome (education and lactation support)
#4 - Accidental death/injuries (education and prevention)
#5 - Maternal complication (education and prevention)
It is important to note, the number of causes that CAN be addressed through education and prevention. Public health agency has a responsibility to it's constituents;
1. Campaigns how to improve Black Infant Mortality
2. Work with "community" based providers to ensure closed loop care
3. Support initiates that emphasis race-based poor outcomes
4. Advocate evidence that support community AND culturally congruent care
5. Listen to communities, believe them, and reallocate funding appropriately
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (2021) Infant mortality and African Americans. Infant health & mortality. https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=23
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020) National Vital Statistics Reports. Infant mortality in the United States 69:7