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Joint Center Says New Approach Required to Reduce Black Infant Mortality
Date:9/28/2007

Think-Tank's Commission Details Recommendations to Curtail Infant Deaths

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The higher infant mortality rate among African Americans is "a new civil rights issue" and requires a revised set of approaches and remedies, according to a commission sponsored by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

In a report released today, the Courage to Love: Infant Mortality Commission, which was established by the Joint Center's Health Policy Institute (HPI), noted that conventional remedies have failed to reduce infant deaths that are disproportionately affecting black families. It pointed to data showing that African Americans suffer infant deaths at more than double the rate of the white population in the U.S -- with 13.5 deaths per 1,000 births for blacks and 5.7 deaths per 1,000 births for whites.

The Commission, which is comprised of medical professionals and academics, said that to address what it called an "infant mortality crisis" in the African American community, more emphasis must be placed on the socioeconomic surroundings of black women, as well as expectant mothers' relationships with their babies, their babies' fathers and the communities where they live.

"The Commission determined that we need a new direction if we are going to better understand and address the infant mortality crisis in the black community," said Ralph Everett, President and CEO of the Joint Center. "These recommendations reflect the need to address social determinants of health. African American women must be viewed as members of families, communities and larger social, economic and environmental systems that affect their psychological and physical health."

In one of its key recommendations, the Commission called for an education campaign to increase the rate of breastfeeding by African American women.

The Commission, chaired by Ronald David, M.D., M.Div., and Barbara Nelson, Ph.D., in col
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SOURCE Joint Center
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