[Excerpt] From 2003–2009, 12 out of every 1000 babies born in New Haven died, and a higher percengtage of those deaths were African American children, according to the Community Health Index recently published by DataHaven.
The Index also reported that three times as many African American mothers as white mothers are experiencing infant mortality. This, however, is not unique to New Haven, but is rather a nationwide trend, according to executive director of DataHaven Mark Abraham, and epidemiologist and Yale School of Public Health lecturer Dr. Amanda Durante, who worked with Abraham to publish the maternal health section of the report. Many researchers in New Haven, at Yale and nationwide are working to solve the mystery behind this disparity. An established cause of many infant deaths is premature birth and low birth weight, which seems to be more common to black women.
African American babies tend to be born smaller not due to poor care of the mother or the baby, Durante has found, adding that the reason remains unclear.
Durante’s research also involved analysis of low birth weight in African American women, focusing specifically on modifiable risk factors, such as smoking and non-modifiable risk factors, like a chronic disease.
Their major findings were that pre-existing chronic conditions in the mother such as chronic hypertension or diabetes, as well as smoking during pregnancy, increased the risk of low birth weight.