Health Disparities Among African American Infants

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Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) also known as infant death rate, is the death of an infant before his or her first birthday. Infant mortality is calculated, by the number of children who die under a year of age divided by the number of live births that year. Infant mortality rate is very important as it relates to the health of pregnant women, children and infants and it’s associated with maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and public health practices. The most important purpose of this review is to examine and understand why African American infants are disproportionately affected and the factors(Low birth weight, preterm birth weight and very low birth weight and infant mortality) . Background

In the United States, approximately two-thirds of infant deaths occur within the first month after the infant is born. This is due in large to low birth weight (LBW). The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined low birth weight as, weight of less than 2500g (up to and 2499g regardless of gestational age) , preterm birth weight (PTB)is defined as, the birth of an infant less than 37 weeks and extremely low birth weight(ELBW) is birth weight less than 1000 g . Low birth weight, extremely low birth weight and preterm birth have all been associated with poor health in infants and/ or poor health of the mothers and there are several factors that signify the fate of African American infants. Infant mortality and poor birth outcomes are serious public health issues in the United States that disproportionately affect African American women. In 2006, African American was 2.4 times more likely to die within their first year than white infants. The leading cause of death for African American infants was low birth weight and preterm birth. There are several factors that attribute to LBW and PTB. (Fang, Fu & et el., 2009). Overview of Research Studies

To further understand the factors that may contribute to LBW and PTB, several case studies will be reviewed and compared. The purpose of reviewing and comparing is to find out accuracy, validity, and similarities of any studies, tests, theories or hypotheses. According to the (American Journal of Epidemiology 2009 v. 172), a case study in (Cook County) Chicago, Illinois, African American women were more likely to be uneducated, single and have no or inadequate prenatal care. 67% of African American women lived in lower income neighborhoods, in comparison to 63% of white women who lived in upper income neighborhoods. The next assessment that was made was the age of the mother in association to LBW rates for African American women versus that of white women. To make this determination the, “Weathering and Non- weathering Effect” hypothesis (Weathering Effect, states that the body exhibits consequences of and responses to chronic exposure to social, economic and political exclusion arising from racial discrimination. Psychosocial stress resulting from these cumulative experiences may prematurely age or weather the reproductive system, contributing to the increasing the risk of poor birth outcomes among older black women. Moreover, in utero exposure to a deteriorated environment results in a generational transfer of the weathering process. ( Colen CG, Geronimus AT, Bound J, et al.,) was applied. Unfortunately, the groups of greater interest African American women and poorer white women were not available for the study so no real conclusion could be drawn as to prove the validity of the hypothesis. The researchers conclude that the impact of an adverse economic or social environment over time has been hypothesized to derive from 2 mechanism, fetal programming and cumulative wear and tear. Early programming attributes to adult morbidity, fetal or early child hood exposures such as under nutrition, using infant LBW as a marker. These early exposures have long been associated with adult outcomes, including...
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