California Tackles Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality Rates
Prompted by the widening gap between black and white infant mortality rates, the California Department of Public Health declared this week "Black Infant Health Week" to focus on reducing these disparities, the Contra Costa Times reports.
Black infants in California are twice as likely to die before their first birthday as infants of any other race. However, the state's infant mortality rates are slightly better than the national average, Shabbir Ahmad, acting chief of maternal and child health programs for the Department of Public Health, said.
According to the Times, access to health care and lifestyle habits can play a significant role in reducing infant mortality. State programs focus on boosting the quantity and quality of care that black women receive, as well as on supporting healthy lifestyles.
For example, San Mateo County's maternal and child health program focuses on helping women overcome the effects of discrimination and financial hardship, Anand Chabra, director of the program, said.
The county's mortality rates for black infants declined more than 50% from 1990 to 2004 (Bohan, Contra Costa Times, 2/20).