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California Groups Look To Tackle Persistent Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality Rates

In a California Healthline Special Report, four experts on racial disparities and public health discussed efforts to reduce black infant mortality rates in California.

The Special Report includes comments from:

  • Bernestine Benton, a program coordinator at the San Mateo County Black Infant Health program;
  • Catherine Camacho, deputy director of the Center for Family Health at the California Department of Public Health;
  • Michael Rodriguez, director of the Network for Multicultural Research on Health and Healthcare at UCLA;
  • Njoke Thomas, program manager for Bay Area Regional Health Inequalities Initiative.

Although California’s infant mortality rate for black infants is one of the lowest in the country, black infants born in the state are still twice as likely as other racial groups to die before their first birthday.

“When you see the trend and you see the gap between African American babies and the reset of the population, there isn’t anybody who wouldn’t be shocked by that because it’s so wide,” Camacho said.

The problem has continued to persist since a state budget act first established black infant health programs 19 years ago. Several efforts are underway to address the disparity (Rebillot, California Healthline, 3/7).

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