From American Public Health Association
Disparities in Infant Mortality
Nearly 28,000 infants died before their first birthday in 2000 -- an infant
mortality rate of 6.9 per 1000 live births. The U.S. infant mortality rate is
higher than that in 27 other nations -- more than twice as both Hong Kong and
Sweden.Infant Mortality Rates Vary Based on Race and Ethnicity
The 2000 infant mortality rate per 1000 live births for babies born to:
African Americans was 13.6.
Native Americans was 8.2.
Hispanics was 5.6.
Asian/Pacific Islanders was 4.8.
Whites was 5.7.
African-Americans. African-American infants are more than twice as likely to
die before their first birthday as white infants. In addition,African-
American infant mortality rates are increasing. The rate of SIDS among
African-Americans is twice that of whites.
Hispanics. Overall, Hispanic infants do not have higher mortality rates than
other groups. But this rate does not reflect the diversity within this
group -- the Puerto Rican infant mortality rate was 7.8 per 1,000 live
American Indians/Alaska Natives. American Indians and Alaska Natives have an
infant death rate almost double that for whites. American Indians and
Alaska Natives experience high rates of SIDS and fetal alcohol syndrome
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
infant mortality rates are 31 percent greater than that of whites.
Asians. Asians have a lower infant mortality rate than whites, but the
highest rate of infant deaths from birth defects.
Causes of infant mortality vary based on race and ethnicityPrematurity/low
birth weight is the leading cause of death in the first month of life. Birth
defects are the leading cause of death in the first year of life.
African-Americans. The rate of deaths due to prematurity/low birthweight for
black infants was nearly four times that for white ones.
Hispanics. Hispanics/Latinos, in particular Puerto Ricans, exhibit a high
rate of central nervous system anomalies, which include spina bifida,
anencephaly, and congenital hydrocephalus.
Some Potential Reasons for Disparities in Infant Mortality
Age. Younger and older mothers have higher preterm birth rates.
Cigarette smoking. Smoking is a potential factor for low birth weight and
growth retardation. Asian/Pacific Islanders smoke the least and American
Indian/Alaska Natives smoke the most.
Alchohol consumption. Alcohol consumption is a potential factor in poor
pregnancy outcomes. Whites and American Indian/Alaska Natives have the
alcohol consumption and Asian/Pacific Islanders have the lowest.
Unintended pregnancy. Births resulting from unwanted conceptions may suffer
from elevated risks of infant mortality and low birth weight. In one
study,African-American women indicated 29 percent of their births in the
years were unintended as opposed to 9.2 percent of white women.
Cultural. Mexican Americans reported more prenatal stress, less support from
the baby's father, and more drug/alcohol use.
Obesity. Asian/Pacific Islanders have the lowest obesity rate and
African-Americans have the highest.
Unequal Care. Rates of prenatal care in the first trimester:
85 percent for whites.
77 percent for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders.
75 percent for Hispanics.
74 percent for African-Americans.
69 percent for American Indians/Alaska Natives.
Education. More educated pregnant women have greater rates of prenatal care
during the first trimester than less educated pregnant women.