Study: Infant mortality rate up for black babies, down for white babies

By Ray Downs  |  July 3, 2017 at 8:12 PM
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July 3 (UPI) -- The infant mortality rate has increased for black infants and declined for white infants in the United States, according to a new study.

Using data from the U.S. National Vital Statistics System from 2005 to 2015, researchers at McGill University found that the infant mortality rate for black infants fell from 14.3 to 11.6 per 1000 births between 2005 to 2012, but then rose from 11.4 to 11.7 per 1000 births between 2014 and 2015.

Infant mortality rates for white infants has been significantly lower and continues to decline, going from 5.7 deaths in 2005 to 4.8 deaths in 2015.

"No single cause appears solely responsible for the recent increase in black infant mortality, and in many instances, some arbitrariness exists in the single cause that is assigned," the researchers wrote. "The preterm birth rate is nearly 50 percent higher for black compared with white infants. Furthermore, black infants experience nearly 4-fold as many deaths related to short gestation and low birthweight, making it the leading cause of infant death among black infants."

The McGill University researchers said the halt to improving numbers for black infant mortality "has led to increases in the absolute inequality in infant mortality between black and white infants during the past 3 years."

They added: "Interventions to further reduce the rate of preterm birth among black infants appear the most promising option for reducing black infant mortality and the absolute inequality between black and white infants."

Researchers have pointed out the disparity in healthcare access between whites and people of color.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, people of color make up 55 percent on the 32.3 million people in the U.S. who are non-elderly and uninsured, with blacks and Native Americans among the hardest hit.

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