Resolution: Racial Disparities in United States Maternal Child Health Care


infant mortality is the death of a live born baby before he reaches his first birthday. The impact of infant mortality is considerable: There are more than 28,000 deaths to children under 1 year of age each year in the United States.


the 2006 infant mortality rate for the US was 7.0 per 1000 for all races. There has since been a slight decline in the overall rate yet a glaring disparity persists for African Americans of at least 2- 3 times above the national average. In 2006 there were 13.4 deaths per thousand compared to the White rate of 5.6.


the U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than those in most other developed countries, and the gap between the U.S. and the rates for those with the lowest infant mortality appears to be widening. In 2004 (the latest year that data are available for all countries), the United States ranked 29th in the world in infant mortality, tied with Poland and Slovakia


the Healthy People 2010 target goal for the U.S. infant mortality rate was set at 4.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in the year 2000. The only race/ethnicity group to achieve the Healthy People 2010 target goal as of 2005 was the Cuban population.


 two of the most common preventable reasons for infant deaths are prematurity and low birth weight. The percentage of infants delivered preterm (less than 37 completed weeks of gestation) has been increasing since the mid-1980s, so that by 2004, one out of every eight infants in the United States was born preterm (12.5%). Nationally two to four times as many African American babies are born prematurely or of low birth weight compared to White babies.


infants born preterm have much higher mortality rates compared with term births (37–41 weeks of gestation). In 2004, nearly one-half or 46% of infant deaths to African American women and 41% of infant deaths to Puerto Rican women were due to preterm-related causes of death.


 the infant mortality rate for African American mothers with over 13 years of education was almost three times that of White mothers in 2005 and the disparities persist across all socio-economic and educational levels for African Americans.


preterm births cost society at least $26 billion or $51,600 per premature baby per year. This includes money spent on medical care for short- and long-term health conditions, educational expenditures and lost productivity for families of those babies who actually survive.

 Sources: Center for Disease Control and Prevention – ; National Center for Health Statistics ; The Office of Minority Health ; Maternal Child Health Bureau; March of Dimes Peristats ; United Nations ; Amnesty International – Deadly Delivery Report and
Prepared by: Jennie Joseph LM, CPM Executive Director Commonsense Childbirth Inc. ©

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