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Morther's obesity a factor in newborn deaths for blacks, not whites, new study reports
Date:6/9/2008

Tampa, FL (June 10, 2008) -- A study led by the University of South Florida sheds new light on obesity's role in the black-white gap in infant mortality. While maternal obesity appears to have no impact on the early survival of infants born to white women, the situation is different for black women, researchers report in the June 2008 issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Infants of obese black mothers had a higher risk of death in the first 27 days following birth than newborns of obese white mothers, the researchers found. Furthermore, this black disadvantage in neonatal infant mortality widened with an increase in the body mass index (BMI).

"Even if the infant of an obese black woman survives pregnancy, labor and delivery, that baby is at greater risk of dying than a baby born to an obese white woman," said the study's lead author Hamisu Salihu, MD, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the USF College of Public Health.

The researchers analyzed more than 1.4 million births recorded from Missouri's vital records database, covering the period 1978 through 1997. The database linked black and white mother-infant pairs. Among all women, the likelihood of neonatal death (up to 27 days following death) and early neonatal death (up to six days following death) was 20 percent greater than for nonobese women, the researcher found. Further analysis revealed that the higher risk of neonatal deaths among newborns of obese mothers was confined to blacks only. The rate of neonatal deaths increased significantly with rising BMIs of black women (ranging from 50 to 100-percent increments). However, the offspring of obese white mothers, regardless of the severity of maternal obesity, had no greater risk of neonatal death than the newborns of nonobese women.

The black-white disparity in infant mortality persisted even when the researchers adjusted for certain obesity-associated medical complications more prevalent
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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@health.usf.edu
813-974-3300
University of South Florida Health
Source:Eurekalert

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