“But Isn’t This the Richest Country in the World: Poor Birth Outcomes and Infant Death Disparities”

Did you know that while the infant mortality rate in the U.S. continues to decline for all populations, the rates at which African American babies die before the age of 1 continues to be over twice the rate for White babies and nearly three times that of Hispanics? Similarly, in Sacramento County, the infant mortality for African Americans is 3.0 times the rates for Whites and over 2.70 times that of Hispanics.

Recent research and theories suggest that the experiences of African Americans in this country, including the chronic stress caused by “real or perceived” racism/discrimination, unequal access to healthcare, and higher rates of poverty, may have a complex interaction in creating this disparity.

Dr. Michael Lu, Associate Administrator of Maternal and Child Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration proposes a “life course perspective” that suggests that the experiences of stress caused by such factors as racism/discrimination, poverty, and inadequate access to resources, over the life course has perpetuated the African American infant mortality disparity and poor birth outcomes across generations.

Sacramento County is responding to these complex issues through its Black Infant Health Program. The program includes empowerment-focused group support and case management services to improve the health and social conditions for African-American women and their families. The program educates women about the importance of prenatal care, provides strategies for managing stress during and after pregnancy, provides referrals to social and health resources, and most importantly gives the women a chance to interact with other pregnant mothers to provide support to one another.

Many of you possibly touch the lives of pregnant African American women in the community and perhaps within your own family. We are asking for your help in addressing this important health issue in ways such as the following:

  •  Become educated and aware of the social issues and factors that lead to health disparities

  • Share with your community the importance of healthy practices before pregnancy including:

    • Eating healthy foods and being physically active 

    • Refraining from smoking and using illicit drugs and alcohol

    • Getting rest and reducing stress
  • Refer your pregnant friends or family members to 916-875-BABY for services and support during their pregnancy.


For more information about the program or for referral forms go to BIH Program or contact the Black Infant Health Program Coordinator, Sharon Saffold, at 916-875-6022.

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