African American Infant Death and How to Prevent It

One way to gauge the health and well-being of a society is to take a look at its infant mortality rate. Infant mortality refers to the death of a baby before their first birthday. The overall infant mortality rate across the U.S. is 5.7 out of every 1,000 live births. The rate varies from state to state and across race and ethnicities. In 2018, the state with the highest infant mortality rate was Mississippi, at 8.3 out of 1,000 live births. The state with the lowest rate was New Hampshire, at 3.6 out of 1,000 live births. Pennsylvania hovered close to the national average, with a rate of 5.9.

There’s also a racial divide when it comes to infant mortality. African American infant mortality rates are higher than for other races and ethnicities. The infant mortality rate for non-Hispanic black babies is 10.8, compared to 4.6 for white babies. Several factors, including access to health care, economic status and how prepared a person is to be a parent, can contribute to infant mortality rates.

Why Are African American Babies More Likely to Die Before Their 1st Birthday?

There isn’t one single reason why babies born to African American mothers are statistically more likely to die before the age of one. Instead, multiple factors contribute to higher rates of black infant mortality. Those factors include:

Most Common Reasons for Child Death

Parents who lose a baby before their first birthday often have questions about why their child died and whether there was anything they could have done to prevent it. In many cases, the parents of the baby feel high levels of guilt. Understanding the more common causes of infant mortality can help parents avoid self-blame and can reduce feelings of guilt:

Tips to Prevent Infant Mortality

If you are expecting a baby, you can take action to protect their health, both during your pregnancy and after birth. Here’s what you can do to keep your little one safe:

Give Your Baby a Healthy Start With Hamilton Health

You and your baby deserve a healthy start and access to health care and assistance when needed. Hamilton Health’s Greater Harrisburg Healthy Start program provides free care and case management to pregnant women and families of children under the age of 18 in Dauphin County. To give your baby the healthy start they deserve, contact us today to learn more about our services.