California Groups Collaborate To Determine Cause of High Infant Mortality Rates Among Blacks
The Pasadena, Calif., branch of the Birthing Project, University of Southern California researchers and the Pasadena Church beginning this fall will collaborate on efforts to study the role that stress and the environment play in the high infant mortality rates among black women, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports. Black infants in the U.S. are two times more likely than non-Hispanic white infants to weigh fewer than five pounds, eight ounces or to be delivered more than one week early, according to the Tribune. Black infants also are three times more likely than white infants to weigh less than three pounds, four ounces or be born more than six weeks early. Socioeconomic status and education are among the factors behind higher rates of low birthweight and premature births among black infants, though an exact cause has yet to be determined, the Tribune reports. Jack Turman, founder and director of USC's Center for Premature Infant Health and Development; the Pasadena Church; and the Birthing Project for three years will track the stress levels, coping mechanisms and reproductive health of women. All participants will have the option to participate in a faith-based, stress-management program and to be matched with "sister friends," or women in the community who are trained to provide guidance and support during pregnancy and the first year of a child's life. "The stress factor is high for working women. Whether she's working at Target or as a business executive," Wenonah Valentine, executive director of the Pasadena Birthing Project, said, adding that the group has discovered that women who "have the highest incidence of infant death are African-American women that are over 35, married and working." Turman said, "People always think 'Well, it's because we're dealing with poor black girls on crack in the ghetto.' This is not true. This is a disparity that affects all African-Americans" (Kleeman, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 4/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.