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New Jersey Program To Boost Birth Outcomes Of Pregnant Black Women

Armen Hareyan's picture

Birth Outcomes Of Pregnant Black Women

The New Jersey Chapter of the March of Dimes is launching a new program that seeks to improve the birth and health outcomes of pregnant black women in the state, the Newark Star-Ledgerreports. While the infant mortality rate among all groups has declinedsince the early 1990s, black infants still are more than twice aslikely as white infants to die before turning age one. In addition,black women have the highest risk for delivering a premature baby,according to the Star-Ledger (Stewart, Newark Star-Ledger, 8/20).

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Theprogram, called "Body and Soul," is a nine-week instructional coursethat trains volunteers to teach pregnant black women about nutrition,stress, exercise and relaxation techniques, coping skills, spiritualhealth and other issues. The program will be held in local churches andhealth clinics. Xenia Acquaye, the chapter's associate director ofprogram services, said, "Research has not been able to capture the trueexperience of being an African-American in the U.S., but we suspectthat racism and stress are closely intertwined and have a huge impacton pregnancy outcomes" (AP/Asbury Park Press, 8/21).


The new effort to address issues related to the "lethal gap" in infantmortality rates between whites and minorities in the state "must be aspersistent as the problem," a Star-Ledger editorial states. According to the Star-Ledger,the infant mortality rates among blacks "consistently have been the badnews among some otherwise encouraging statistics on baby deaths" in NewJersey. While the infant mortality rate among blacks has dropped from17.3 deaths per 1,000 births in 1990 to 10.7 deaths per 1,000 births in2004, the "rate is now where the state's overall rate was 20 yearsearlier," the editorial adds. It concludes, "This country and thisstate must do everything possible to eliminate one of the most tragicof health care disparities" (Newark Star-Ledger, 8/21).

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.