Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Black infants are dying...and it's Whitey's fault

It's Black Infant Health Week here in California (and to think, I wasted the first half of this week not even thinking about the health of Black Children...shame on me!).

Sadly, Black Children have a tougher road to health here in California. According to the San Jose Mercury News:

In 2000, the federal government set its sights on eliminating racial disparities in infant mortality rates by 2010.

Things aren't going exactly as hoped.

Before their first birthday, black infants in California are still twice as likely to die as infants in any other racial group, a statistic that galvanized the California Department of Public Health to declare Feb. 17-23 "Black Infant Health Week."

Now all kidding aside, it's simply tragic that many black kids in California enter life with the odds stacked against them. Surely we need to work to find the answers to solve this high mortality rate:

The gap between blacks and other racial groups persists, the CDC states, due in large part to a two- to three-fold increased risk of black infants being born with "low birth weight" (5 pounds, 8 ounces or less) or "very low birth weight" (3 pounds, 5 ounces or less).

Other factors leading to infant mortality include respiratory distress, sudden infant death syndrome and birth defects.

Access to health care and lifestyle habits play a significant role in reducing infant mortality, and government programs focus on increasing the quantity and quality of care for black women, as well as supporting healthful lifestyle choices.

But social factors also have a major role, experts point out.

Uh oh. Here it comes...

"There are so many factors that play into those disparities," said Dr. Anand Chabra, director of the maternal and child health program for San Mateo County, where infant mortality rates among blacks declined more than 50 percent between 1990 and 2004.

"Some of it is access to care, and some of it is racism," he said.


A 2001 study from the CDC - titled "A Public Health Framework for Addressing Black and White Disparity in Preterm Delivery" - emphasized that the stress of low socioeconomic status and racism plays a critical role in the gap.

"African-American women experience some stressors not experienced by women of other ethnic groups," they wrote, "including racism and the interacting effects of gender and racism."

The cumulative effect of those stresses is that black women more often struggle with feelings of anger, hopelessness, anxiety and depression, the authors said.

And studies link chronic stress to the stimulation of hormones that induce early labor, the study noted. Stress is also associated with higher rates of bacterial vaginosis, an infection that is three times more common in blacks than whites during pregnancy and may increase the risk of premature delivery.

So let me get this straight. Black babies are dying at a higher than normal rate because their mother's can't handle the stress of racism?

Funny. kids don't seem to have that problem. In fact, they are surviving at a higher rate than white kids:

And in 2004, there were still 13.6 black infant deaths nationwide for every 1,000 births, compared with 5.7 deaths per 1,000 among white newborns. Hispanic babies fared even better, with 5.5 deaths per 1,000 births in 2004, according to the CDC. Among Asian newborns in the United States, 4.5 infants out of 1,000 didn't survive their first year.

Yup, don't blame single parenthood, drug abuse or heck, maybe even the stress of gangs in black's all gotta be Whitey's fault.

Now excuse me while I go put my bullshit detector back in the closet...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe the dingos killed their babies.