Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality

Infant mortality remains a concern here in the United States, and Black infants still experience it at the highest rate. An obstetrician and gynecologist weighs in on the contributing factors and explains the importance of prenatal care.

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CLEVELAND – Infant mortality remains a concern in the United States.

Data shows the infant mortality rate rose in 2022 by 3% – that’s the first increase in two decades.

Overall, Black infants still experience the highest rate of infant mortality.

“The latest data shows us that for an industrialized country, we still have a lot of work to do,” explained Tosin Goje, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist for Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Goje said Black newborns die at more than two times the rate of white newborns.

According to Dr. Goje, there are many contributing factors, including the increase in chronic health conditions among Black women before pregnancy, like type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

She encourages all expecting mothers to establish care with a primary care provider to address any preexisting health conditions.

Throughout pregnancy, prenatal care is crucial for the mother and baby’s health and can help diagnose any congenital conditions.

Dr. Goje said trouble accessing resources also plays a role in infant mortality.

“We can’t talk about infant mortality rates and racial disparities without talking about structural racism and social determinants of poor health outcomes – like where someone resides, lack of transportation as well as food insecurity,” Dr. Goje said. “When patients are availing themselves for early prenatal care, we’re able to provide what we call wraparound resources.”

Dr. Goje added there’s more help available today than in the past for expecting mothers.

She encourages those wanting to start a family to reach out to their local healthcare provider to see what resources are available.

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