Florida Gov. Crist Signs Bill Aiming To Reduce Infant Mortality Rates Among Minorities
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) on Monday signed a bill into law that will fund research examining the cause of high infant mortality rates among minorities, the Fort Meyers News-Press reports. According to a legislative staff analysis, Florida's infant mortality rate in 2005 was 12.5 deaths per 1,000 live births among minorities, compared with 5.3 deaths per 1,000 live births among whites (Booth Reed, Fort Meyers News-Press, 7/3).
The bill, sponsored by Democratic lawmakers Rep. Betty Reed and Sen. Arthenia Joyner, provides a one-time, $1 million grant to be used by researchers to find the cause of the disparity (Mishkin, St. Petersburg Times, 7/3). The grant also will go toward two or more Healthy Start coalitions in areas with a black infant mortality rate nearly double that of whites, according to the News-Press (Fort Meyers News-Press, 7/3). The Florida Department of Health will administer the programs and allocate the funds.
Rochelle Barberio, a registered nurse with Healthy Start in Hillsborough County, said that researchers will have to address health issues -- such as obesity, hypertension, inadequate prenatal care, and environmental and personal stress -- that contribute to pre-term labor. Pre-term labor is one of the leading causes of infant death, Estrellita Berry, project director of Healthy Start in Hillsborough, said.
Reed said, "With the signing of that bill today, ... I hope I started the process of really taking charge of the disparity" (St. Petersburg Times, 7/3).