Black Women in Virginia More Likely Than Others To Experience Infant Mortality
Black women in Virginia are two-and-a-half times more likely than women of other races to experience infant mortality, according to the state Department of Health, the Newport News Daily Press reports. In 2007 in Hampton, there were four deaths per 1,000 live births among white infants, compared with 12.7 deaths per 1,000 live births among black infants. Nationwide, the infant mortality rate among blacks in 2000 was 14.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities. The national average is 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.
The leading cause of infant mortality in Hampton Roads is premature birth, followed by sudden undetermined infant death, according to the Daily Press.
Research by Jerome Strauss, dean of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, has found a connection between the environment and a genetic variation that causes the fetal membrane to rupture, leading to pre-term births in black women. "That's a significant risk increase. That's not going to explain all pre-term births that occur in African-Americans, but it's going to be a factor that's responsible," he said.
Thursa Crittenden of the Virginia Department of Health's Office of Minority Health and Public Health Policy, attributes part of the disparity to chronic stress that black women face, which predisposes them to poor health.
Pamela Hammond, dean of Hampton University's School of Nursing, noted that biology, access to health care and socioeconomic issues also contribute to health disparities. "There is no one factor that causes this health disparity. It is multifactorial," she said (Kelly, Newport News Daily Press, 5/3).