Studies Examine Cause Behind Infant Mortality Gap

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Infant Mortality

The following summarizes studies in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health that are related to minority health.

  • "The Contribution of Preterm Birth to the Black-White Infant Mortality Gap, 1990 and 2000":The study examined how racial disparities in preterm births affectsracial disparities in infant mortality. Previous research has linkedalmost two-thirds of racial disparities in infant mortality to pretermbirth. For the study, Ashley Schempf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Schoolof Public Health's Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health and colleagues used data from the National Center for Health StatisticsLinked Birth/Infant Death Cohort Files. Between 1990 and 2000,premature births decreased by 10% among black infants, compared with a16% increase among white infants. However, extremely premature births-- infants born before 28 weeks -- were four times higher among blackinfants and accounted for more than 50% of the infant mortality gap,according to the study. Researchers concluded that because of thedisparity in extremely premature births among blacks, improving effortsto prevent premature births is necessary to reduce the infant mortalitygap between whites and blacks (Schempf et al., AJPH, July 2007).
  • "Overt and Subtle Racial Discrimination and Mental Health: Preliminary Findings for Korean Immigrants":This study examined how overt and subtle forms of racial discriminationagainst Korean immigrants affected their mental health. For the study,researchers Samuel Noh of the Culture, Community and Health Studiesprogram at the University of Torontoand colleagues used data from the Korean Mental Health Study andinterviewed 180 Korean immigrants living in Toronto. Researchers foundthat both overt and subtle discrimination seemed to influenceparticipants' mental health. Overt discrimination was associated withthe erosion of positive mood, while subtle racism was associated withsymptoms of depression, possibly because more subtle forms ofdiscrimination create "ambiguities in terms of social identity," thestudy said (Noh et al., AJPH, July 2007).
  • "A Nationwide Study of Discrimination and Chronic Health Conditions Among Asian-Americans":This study examined whether perceived discrimination contributes tochronic health conditions among Asian-Americans. For the study,researcher Gilbert Gee of the University of Michigan School of PublicHealth Department of Health Behavior and Health Educationused data from the National Latino and Asian-American Study from 2002and 2003. Researchers found that perceived discrimination wasassociated with many chronic conditions, such as respiratory,cardiovascular, and pain-related conditions. Discrimination also wasassociated with indicators of those conditions, according to thereport. Researchers concluded that the everyday perceiveddiscrimination minorities experience could cause stress that can leadto chronic illnesses (Gee et al., AJPH, July 2007).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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