Infant Mortality Rate in the Antelope Valley Exceeds Those for Los Angeles County Overall
The infant mortality rate in the Antelope Valley is nearly twice that of Los Angeles County overall, according to a report released Thursday by the county's Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN), the Los Angeles Times reports. ICAN releases the report annually.
The death rate in the Antelope Valley for children less than one year old was 10.6 per 1,000 live births in 2002, compared to the countywide rate of 5.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. According to the report, the infant mortality rate in the Antelope Valley increased by 112% from 1999 to 2002. The rate remained stable or decreased in the rest of the county.
In addition, mortality rates among African-American infants in the Antelope Valley increased from one per 1,000 live births in 1999 to 32.7 per 1,000 live births in 2002. Countywide, the mortality rate among African-American infants was 13.1 per 1,000 live births.
Mortality rates for other races in the Antelope Valley "increased slightly" over the same time period, the Times reports.
The Antelope Valley -- which includes Lancaster, Palmdale and other communities -- is "one of the fastest-growing parts of Southern California," according to the Times.
County authorities said the infant mortality rate was higher in the Antelope Valley primarily because of a lack of prenatal care and limited transportation options.
Cynthia Harding -- director of Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Programs for the county -- said that there is only one high-risk maternity specialist in the Antelope Valley. She added that long distances from services and lack of transportation also affect the quality of maternity care.
County officials said they did not know why infant mortality rates among African Americans were so much higher than those for other groups. County officials said factors could include inadequate prenatal care, poor maternal nutrition and preexisting medical conditions, such as diabetes.
The county Board of Supervisors in July 2004 held a series of community meetings and approved measures to address infant mortality. A consortium of health advocates and community leaders called the Antelope Valley Best Babies Collaborative was formed and on Wednesday will sponsor a community meeting to discuss the issue.
The collaborative is working with hospitals and other health care providers to expand services and support options for residents, particularly African Americans (Rivera, Los Angeles Times, 4/28).