Reducing the Racial Gap in Infant Mortality Rates

The federal government’s Healthy People 2020 initiative has set a goal of reducing the infant mortality rate in this country from 6.7 of every 1,000 live births to fewer than 6.0 for every 1,000 live births.

But a new study by Flavia Cristina Drumond, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois and Shondra Loggins, who recently earned a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois and is currently a research data analyst at the university, finds that the reduction in the infant mortality rate will in all probability not be met for most racial and ethnic subgroups. The research finds that the infant mortality rate will meet the goal only for White mothers who have at least a high school diploma. The rate for this group is expected to drop to 3.9 per 1,000 live births by 2020. For Black mothers with at least a high school education the rate is expected to drop, but only to 8.3. For all Black mothers the infant mortality rate is expected to be 11.8 per 1,000 live births.

Shondra-Loggins-thumb“In exploring possible reasons for the racial disparities,” Dr. Loggins states, “we focused on three established risk factors – marital status, maternal education, and prenatal care – but found that these factors only partially explained the disparities.”

Dr. Loggins says that “making health care, including prenatal care, available to uninsured women under the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction” in reducing the racial gap in infant mortality rates.

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