Recent Research Points to Racism as Likely Cause of Increased Infant Mortality Rate Among Blacks
Higher infant mortality rates among blacks might be the result of racism-induced stress, recent research indicates, McClatchy/Charlotte Observer reports. According to CDC, the infant mortality rate for black infants is 13.5 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with about 5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births for white and Hispanic infants.
According to McClatchy/Observer, higher infant mortality rates among blacks could be related to poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate prenatal care, teen pregnancy, genetics, high blood pressure, stress, obesity, low birthweights and preterm births. Researchers in the last few years have published studies finding that regardless of socioeconomic status, U.S.-born black women still were more likely than white women, Hispanic immigrants and foreign-born black women to have premature and low birthweight infants.
Michael Lu, an ob-gyn and professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, said that racism is the "elephant in the room," adding, "When we're studying racial disparities, for decades people have looked at stress and infant mortality without looking at the reasons for the stress."
Researchers at Emory University and Spelman College recently studied 600 pregnant black women living in Atlanta to determine the effect of racial discrimination on health. According to the research, the women reported stress related to hearing white teachers call black children "those kids" and working longer hours to feel accepted by white colleagues. One participant told researchers, "The pregnancy scares the life out of me because I am pregnant with a baby boy, and I know how black boys are treated in this society" (Abdullah, McClatchy/Charlotte Observer, 9/30).
A series of reports on infant mortality among blacks is available online at the Joint Center for Political Economic Studies Web site.