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

laboration with the UCLA School of Public Affairs, determined there is a link between the high infant mortality rate among African Americans and the fact that black women have the lowest rate of breastfeeding among ethnic groups. It concluded that breastfeeding should be actively encouraged in the black community through targeted education, training, awareness and support.

"For many years, the operating theory in the health community has been that the high incidence of infant deaths among African Americans is attributed to higher teen pregnancy rates, single motherhood, lower education levels, poverty and, most recently, genetic causes," said Dr. David. "However, we found that infant mortality for blacks remained high even when all these factors were controlled."

In addition, David noted that the genetic theory is weakened by research showing better birth outcomes among foreign-born black women.

The Commission also examined relationships between infant mortality and maternal nutrition, as well as infant mortality and resilience. Further, the commission analyzed the historical framework of policies and practices currently in place to reduce infant mortality, while looking at infant mortality in a global context.

The Commission concluded that research, policy, and practice must change direction to achieve measurable change and eradicate the infant mortality disparity.

Its work included publishing four papers that analyze critical issues related to infant mortality and make the case for this imperative:

-- Infant Mortality in the Global Village: Inequality Matters, by

Ronald David, M.D., M.Div.

-- Maternal Nutrition and Infant Mortality in the Context of

Relationality, by Michael C. Lu, M.D., M.P.H., and Jessica S. Lu,

M.P.H.

-- African American Women and Breastfeeding, by Barbara L. Philipp,

M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.B.M., and Sheina Jean-Marie

-- Race, Stress, and Social Support: Addressing
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SOURCE Joint Center
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