Bringing Awareness At the End of Infant Mortality Awareness Month

PROVIDENCE, RI – September was Infant Mortality Awareness Month, and there were a number of reasons to be paying attention. In an article for the online publication, Women’s E-news, Kimberly Seals Allers uncovered a report issued in 2006 by an organization called Save the Children, in which the United States was ranked “near the bottom of industrialized nations [and] tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia” in infant mortality rates.

“Even more distressing” was what her research revealed about African American babies: “Compared to non-Hispanic white infants, black babies are four times as likely to die as infants due to complications related to low birth weight.”

To keep reading, the article from Women’s E-news, click here. For more about Infant Mortality Awareness month, click here to visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health. To read more about preventing premature births, scroll down or click here.

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More on disparities in maternal and infant health, according to data compiled for the 2007 Minority Health Fact Sheet issued by the Rhode Island Department of Health, Office of Minority Health:

Higher percentages of all minority mothers received delayed prenatal care compared to the White and overall state population. Native Americans and Asian & Pacific Islanders have the most delayed care.

Native Americans have the highest percentage of infants with low birth weight.
African Americans have the second highest percentage of infants with low birth weight, but the highest infant mortality rates compared to all other groups.

Hispanics/Latinos have the highest percentage of mothers with less than 12 years of education compared to all other groups.

More on disparities in maternal and infant health, according to March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization with a mission ‘to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.’

More than half a million babies or 1 in 8 live births, were born premature in the U.S. The figure was in 1 in 6 for black infants.

Black infants also have a greater chance of being born very preterm – compared to Hispanic, white, Native American and Asian infants. Very preterm infants face the highest risk for death and serious lifelong disabilities.

Even those babies born late preterm – between 34 and 36 weeks gestation – are at greater risk for serious health problems.

The average length of a hospital stay for a full term infant was 1.5 days, and the average medical costs for the first year were $3,325. The average stay for preterm babies was 13 days, and the first year costs for care were $32,325.

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