Infant mortality soars among African- Americans

Like every new mother, Lisa wakes up everyday thinking about her daughter, Taylor. The difference between Lisa and these new mothers is that Taylor died of SIDS, three months after her birth.

Lisa put Taylor in her crib, after she had fallen asleep in her arms. Lisa checked on Taylor a few hours later, and she wasn’t breathing. She called the doctor, and was told to bring the baby to the hospital.

At the hospital, Taylor was pronounced dead, due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“I wake up every day wishing that there was something that I could’ve done to save her,” Lisa said.

Although Taylor died of SIDS, she is also a victim of infant mortality. Many people are unaware of what infant mortality is. According to the Department of Human and Health Services, infant mortality is the death of an infant before his or her first birthday.

Infant mortality rates are at an all time high in the United States, primarily among African American women. In Florida, African American babies are dying at twice the rate of white babies.

“For every two babies that die in all of Florida, four babies will die in both Leon and Wakulla counties,” said Martina Schmid, communications director of Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition, is an organization that has been trying to save the lives of babies in Tallahassee since 1991.

CAHSC’s goal is to promote the best possible pregnancy outcome for all women. The coalition’s mission statement is “a community coalition dedicated to improving the health in infants and their families.”

The coalition’s duties are to prevent low birth weight ( less than 5.5 pounds), infant deaths, and to provide information for mothers to keep their babies healthy after birth.

They want to help pregnant women in every possible way to deliver a healthy baby. CAHSC is trying to inform the local community about infant mortality and ways for pregnant women to care for themselves and their unborn child, in order for a healthy baby to be born.

Infant mortality is divided into two categories: neonatal mortality and postneonatal mortality. Neonatal mortality occurs in infants under 28 days of age, and accounts for two-thirds of U.S. infant deaths.

Postneonatal mortality occurs between 28 days and the first birthday, and accounts for a third of U.S. infant deaths.

“Conditions that arise during this critical period can b e attributed, for the most part, to problems with the pregnancy or to health problems of the infant,” according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

“The most frequent causes of neonatal mortality include congenital anomalies and sequelae of pre-term delivery, including respiratory distress syndrome.”

According to the NCHS report, “Sudden infant death syndrome, congenital anomalies, injuries, and infection are the most common causes of postneonatal mortality.”

“The infant mortality rate correlates to the general health and well being of the nation, particularly for infants, children, and pregnant women.~

Infants at risk of dying before their first birthday incur significantly greater medical costs than other healthy infants,” according to the NCHS report.

“Infant mortality is related to a variety of often-linked factors, such as pre-term birth, low birth weight, and congenital anomalies,” according to the report on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Infant Mortality.

“The rate of infant mortality is uncommonly high in the United States compared to other developed countries.”

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 1998, there was a record low of 7.2 infant deaths per 1000 live births in the United States.

This ranked the U.S. at 26th as compared to other industrialized nations. The three leading causes of infant deaths in 1998 were congenital anomalities, pre-term/low birth weight and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Lisa is dealing with Taylor’s death on a day-to-day basis. She knows that she cannot do anything to get her baby back. When she decides to have another child, she knows to get prenatal care, eat healthier and to take good care of herself..

Information on infant mortality is available at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention ( Contact Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition at 850-488-0288.