Posts Tagged ‘ prematurity birth ’

Infant Mortality and Inequality

Larry Adelman is co-director of California Newsreel  and the creator and executive producer of Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? and RACE-The Power of an Illusion.  “When the Bough Breaks”, the episode from Unnatural Causes exploring African American infant mortality, can be screened on-line for free during the month at www.newsreel.org.

I still remember when first researching our documentary series Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?  being steered to the work of two neonatologists from Chicago, Drs. James Collins and Richard David.

It’s well-known that African Americans have infant mortality rates more than twice as high as white Americans.  Collins and David wanted to know why.  According to the CDC, complications due to low-birth weight are the leading cause of African American infant deaths. In one study, Collins and David compared the birth weights of newborns of three different groups:  white Americans, African Americans and African immigrants born in the U.S.

They discovered that while African American babies are born, on average, about half a pound smaller than white Americans, babies born here to African immigrants are about the same weight as white American babies.

In a subsequent study, Collins and David found that just one generation later, the daughters of those very same African immigrants were giving birth to lower birth-weight babies.

What changed in a generation? Not genes; genes don’t change in a generation. But kids born to African immigrants grow up here as African Americans, their bodies subject for decades to the cumulative stressors of racism experienced by other African Americans (many studies show that large racial gaps in birth outcomes remain even after controlling for pre-natal care, education, nutrition and other factors).

Our earlier documentary series, RACE – The Power of an Illusion , tried to help viewers negotiate a two-step:  the idea of ‘race’ as innate biological difference between population groups makes little scientific sense, yet race as lived experience is very real – and can even have biological consequences.

And among the most enraging as well as heart-rending of those consequences is high infant mortality.  Why enraging?  Because it doesn’t have to be this way.

Nancy Krieger and colleagues found that in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement and the War on Poverty both racial and class infant mortality gaps narrowed between 1966 and 1980. But progress ceased as the Reagan presidency initiated a 30-year binge of rollbacks of social programs, tax cuts for the rich and corporate deregulation which helped spawn unprecedented growth in inequality.

Health tracks wealth as well as race. On average, the wealthier you are, the healthier. And our growing inequality is taking a toll on white American babies as well.  I just took a look at the infant mortality tables at CIA’s World Fact Book. By my calculation, if white Americans were a separate nation, their infant mortality rate of 5.6 / 1000 would rank them about 33rd in the world (even lower if small entities like Guernsey and Andorra are included).

There are many exciting initiatives tackling infant mortality one city, one county at a time. They are each important. But if we want to make a lasting difference, if we want to give all our children the opportunity for a healthy start, shouldn’t we also be reversing those policies which have increasingly channeled the nation’s wealth, power and resources into the hands of what FDR used to call the plutocrats and the financial elite?

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March of Dimes Kicks Off Prematurity Awareness Month

Today is Prematurity Awareness Day! This year the March of Dimes celebrates their 8th annual Prematurity Awareness Month.  And to kick off today, they released the 3rd annual Report Card on Preterm Birth Rates. This report gives the United States an overall grade and compares all 50 states and Puerto Rico’s rankings from last year to this year. Report Cards are based upon many health indicators which include preterm birth (percentage of births before 37 weeks), late preterm birth (percentage of births between 34 and 36 weeks), uninsured women, and women who smoke. The “grades” on each Report Card range from A-F with A being a preterm birth rate of less than or equal to 7.6 percent and an F being a preterm birth rate of greater than or equal to 13.2 percent.

To view the full report please visit:
March of Dimes 2010 Premature Birth Report Card

The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin appeared today alongside March of Dimes President, Dr. Jennifer Howse, at an event in Washington DC. Dr. Benjamin will also appear in a Public Service Announcement which was shown at today’s event.

To view the PSA please visit:
Surgeon General PSA 60sec (View Windows Media Video)
Surgeon General PSA 30sec (View Windows Media Video)

Each year over half a million babies are born preterm and do not make it to their first birthday. Across the country today, March of Dimes volunteers and staff will be holding candlelight vigils to raise awareness and bring attention to the continuing problem of premature birth.

For local events or for more information on how to get involved please visit:
March of Dimes Local Chapters

The Knowledge Path MCH Resource Library’s Latest Edition: Infant Mortality and Pregnancy Loss

The Georgetown University Maternal and Child Health Library has just released a new edition of the knowledge path. The knowledge path was made for health professionals, policymakers, researchers, and families as a guide for people to find resources on data analysis, research reports, and program descriptions around one MCH topic. The newest edition of the Knowledge Path is all about Infant Mortality and Pregnancy Loss. In this edition, readers can find resources to intervention strategies, attempts at lowering risk, bereavement support groups, and research on finding out the causes of infant mortality and pregnancy loss. Other sections feature resources on factors that contribute to infant mortality and pregnancy loss like birth defects, injuries, low birthweight and prematurity, and ways to lower the risk of infant mortality and pregnancy loss like preconception care, pregnancy and safe sleep environments.

To view the Knowledge Path online click http://www.mchlibrary.info/KnowledgePaths/kp_infmort.html.

A resource brief for families accompanies the Knowledge Path and is available at http://www.mchlibrary.info/families/frb_infmort.html.

The Maternal and Child Health Library provides access to current, accurate information from a full range of MCH topics. The library offers a variety of electronic resources including the MCH Alert, resource guides, databases, and other materials specifically developed for professionals and families. To view the library online, go to http://mchlibrary.info.

MCH Alert is a weekly electronic newsletter that offers the latest references to research, policy developments, recently released publications, new programs, and initiatives affecting the MCH community. To view and subscribe to MCH Alert, you can visit http://www.mchlibrary.info/alert/index.html.

NHSA Kicks off National Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Yesterday marked the first day of National Infant Mortality Awareness Month in the U.S. To commemorate the month, the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA) has launched its campaign, Celebrate Day 366…Every Baby Deserves a Chance to promote national awareness around this very critical issue.

Infant mortality refers to the number of infant deaths before the age of one and Celebrate Day 366 is a campaign to increase the public’s awareness about the issue. The campaign is an example of NHSA’s commitment to increasing the number of babies who will live beyond their first birthday. The organization is dedicated to ensuring that the nation’s most vulnerable women and families are receiving high quality services and resources for healthy pregnancies and healthy births. Infant Mortality Awareness Month is a key time to also raise public awareness about the one million babies who die each year because they are born prematurely.

Toward the end of the month, NHSA will host a briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss priorities for action in the public and private sectors that address reducing infant mortality rates and strategies to ensure that every baby has a healthy start. NHSA will inform policymakers, staffers, and the general public about the pressing need for community-based programs to reduce infant mortality, low birth-weight, and racial disparities in perinatal outcomes. Invited to provide remarks at the Congressional Briefing are U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN); Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, Garth Graham, M.D.; Executive Director of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, Judy Meehan; and President of the National Fatherhood Initiative, Roland Warren.

Throughout September, we will use the blog to share information, resources, and activities related to infant mortality and prematurity.You’ll also see a calendar of activities on the NHSA Celebrate Day 366 web page, as well as campaign resources and an updated Toolkit.

Join NHSA this month in its efforts to increase awareness and spread the word about infant mortality. Collectively, we can help save the lives of millions of babies in this country. Help us make sure every baby reaches their first birthday!

Support Prematurity Awareness Month

As we close out the month of November, we still have two weeks remaining to promote awareness around reducing prematurity births. Every day, we see how premature birth affect babies and families. With more than half a million babies born prematurely in the United States each year, the problem is bigger than ever.

The National Healthy Start Association is proud to partner with the March of Dimes® to give all babies a fighting chance. On November 17, thousands of people participated in Prematurity Awareness Day® activities in their communities. The month and day were recognized across America and covered by local and national media. March of Dimes also released its second annual Premature Birth Report Cards and America received a “D.” As a country, we are failing to give our babies the healthy start they deserve.  We obviously have so much more work to do if we are going to help save the lives of our most vulnerable population — our babies.

The cards score the nation and each individual state on its rate of premature birth and give recommendations for improvement. The report cards also highlight three contributing factors of premature birth: the rate of women of childbearing age who are uninsured; the rate of women of childbearing age who smoke; and the rate of late preterm birth. Recommendations for improvement are given in each of these areas, for example, federal and state support of smoking cessation as part of maternity care.  Another key March of Dimes recommendation is for hospitals and health care professionals to voluntarily assess c-sections and inductions that occur prior to 39 weeks gestation to ensure consistency with professional guidelines. Check out your state report cards and get involved.

To participate in Prematurity Awareness Month, or to view the Premature Birth Report Cards, visit marchofdimes.com/fightforpreemies.

 

Help us save our nation’s babies!