Sunday, November 06, 2005

Gap between black, white infant mortality grows

Benton Harbor has the highest death rate in the state; health officials plan not to attack problem. Berrien county health department will do nothing to reduce the death rate of black infants.

Benton Harbor has the highest rate of African-American infant deaths in the state. Approximately 85 percent of those deaths occured among babies born to Benton township residents.

At the same time, the county`s death rate of children less than 1 year old declined for whites. The gap between the two has widened since 1995. From 1997-1999, 21.7 of every 1000 African-American babies born in Berrien County died before their first birthday compared to 5.5 of every 1,000 white babies.

We want to create an awareness among health providers of the huge disparity in infant death in Berrien County.

In Berrien County the death rate for children of all races went down to its lowest point in the decade in 1994.

There was a rise in 1995,but the rate for African-American babies went up.

How much is enough? How large does the gap have to be before we act? Why can`t we live in a community where African-American and white babies have an equal opportunity to survive to their first birthdays? In the data I studied, black babies were twice as likely as white babies to weigh less than 5 pounds 9 ounces at birth. Weight defines a low birth weight baby.

Twice as many white mothers as black mothers received adequate parental care, defined by the stage in pregnancy at the first medical visit.

The average age of Afican-American first time mothers was 22.7years; the average age of white first time mother was 26.4 years. However, a very large number of black mothers were teen-agers.

Pinkney calls on health care professionals to analyze information they have on where and when prenatal and infant health services are provided, who provided those services and what is missing from our recipe. Why can`t we live in a community where African-American and white babies have equal opportunity to survive to their first birthdays?


Anonymous said...

Pinkney, maybe you should consider the fact that there are a lot of people in Benton Harbor, black and white, that smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and sometimes even smoke crack while pregnant. But I suppose this would have nothing to do with babies dying at birth. I am so sick of you trying to make everything sound like a race issue when it sounds like you are the one that is racist. You need to look at the positive things that are helping to change Benton Harbor. I think that people need to be educated better on how to take care of themselves while pregnant so that the babies have a chance at life. Think about it...

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ed, use your power to educate the people in Benton Harbor to seek medical attention in the early stages of pregnancy. That will help. So will educating people about pregnancy and helping people to avoid giving birth to unwanted children. Educating people how to care for their bodies will help as well.

Infant mortality rates is a serious issue, but it's not ALL about race. Race does play a factor, but the ultimate responsibility lies on the parents to get to the doctor, eat right and avoid toxins that may harm the child as it grows.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the racial implement in this post, I think you are sending a good message.

This has to be the first time I've actually agreed with something you've wrote, aside from the claim that it's only African American children that are often neglected. This is a problem that exists in all races, not only in the African American community.

People of ALL races need to be educated on pregnancy, and the responsibilities of having a child.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Pinkney is relating race issues to our general social structure. Could it be that things like the ability to have monetary assets to ensure quality of life, both before birth and after birth, is important? Are people blinking reality about this?

Anonymous said...

Rev Pinkney,I felt that it was really important for me and my family to be at your meeting,as a young black person,i want to be involve in unity and to find out what we can do to better ourselves and to help you.I love to hear white people call a black man racist.that mean you are doing something to help black people.Rev P, keep on doing what you are doing.We Love You

Ebony Jones