Study Hopes To Find Factors Behind Higher Black Infant Mortality Rates in Florida
A $1 million Black Infant Health Practice Initiative study aims to look at conditions in Florida, as well as medical and social factors that contribute to a higher rate of infant mortality among blacks, the Miami Herald reports. Study researchers will gather information from local health care, political and community leaders and also will conduct citizen focus groups.
According to data from the state Department of Health, the number of black infants per 1,000 live births who died before their first birthdays increased from 10.7 in 2001 to 11.5 in 2006.
The study was called for in a state law signed by Gov. Charlie Crist (R) in July 2007.
Eight Florida counties -- Broward, Duval, Gadsden, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach and Putnam -- that have the highest infant mortality rate gap are participating in the study. Nonwhite infants in the counties are at least 1.75 times more likely than white infants to die, the Herald reports. Gadsden and Hillsborough counties have black infant mortality rates four times as high as the rates among white infants, according to Emile Commedore, a physician and director of the Florida Health Department Office of Minority Health.
The state hopes to "develop community strategies" to address high infant mortality among blacks, Commedore said.
According to some advocates, a lack of prenatal care, poor diets and obesity are factors behind higher infant mortality among blacks. Other factors include a lack of family support, poor working conditions, low salaries and a lack of time off work to go to medical appointments.
The study runs though June 30 (Robinson, Miami Herald, 2/24).