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March of Dimes Works to Eliminate Racial Gaps in Infant Health
Date:2/3/2008

February is Black History Month

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In recognition of Black History Month, the March of Dimes is drawing attention to the tremendous gap in premature birth and infant mortality rates that disproportionately affect black women in the United States and to the programs and research designed to reduce -- and one day eliminate -- these disparities.

Black women have the highest premature birth and infant mortality rates of all racial groups. The preterm birth rate for black women averaged 17.6 percent, compared to the national average of 12.3 between 2002 and 2004. Infant mortality rates for blacks averaged 13.5 percent compared to the national average of 6.9 between 2002 and 2004.

"The March of Dimes is working to assure that all babies have an equal opportunity for a healthy start in life," said Dr. Diane Ashton, deputy medical director at the March of Dimes. "To achieve this goal, we need help to spread the word, to educate, and to call for resources and programs that can make a difference for the health of our black communities and for the nation as a whole."

To address disparities in infant health outcomes, the March of Dimes works with community-based organizations to provide public health-focused services, distribute maternal and infant health information and support scientific research.

Beginning this month, the March of Dimes is partnering with the federal Office of Minority Health Resource Center to support the "A Healthy Baby Begins with You" program, an educational campaign to raise awareness about the high infant mortality rates in the African-American population. Select March of Dimes chapters will participate in health fairs, distributing information women need before they become pregnant to help them have a healthy baby. Tonya Lewis Lee, author, producer and wife of filmmaker Spike Lee, is the campaign spokesperson, and members of Behind the Bench, the Nat
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SOURCE March of Dimes
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