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Multnomah County To Help Reduce Infant Mortality

Armen Hareyan's picture

Infant Mortality

Multnomah County's Healthy Birth Initiatives provides support and services aimed at eliminating health disparities of infant mortality.

HBI began in June 1997 to address the high infant mortality rate among African-Americans in North and Northeast Portland. The number of African-American babies who died before their first birthday was, and continues to be higher than babies of every other race.

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According to Oregon Department of Human Services, Center for Health Statistics, in Multnomah County during 1996-1998, 15 African-American babies died before they reached the age of one as compared to six white babies. (Rates are calculated per every 1,000 live births.) Although infant mortality rates are decreasing, the rates for African-Americans are still twice as high as whites. During 2000-2004, eight African-American babies died before they reached the age of one as compared to four white babies.

In honor of National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, HBI is asking community members and service providers to help increase the community's awareness of the contributing factors to infant mortality by becoming involved in the Community Consortium. The Consortium meets every third Wednesday of the month from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Multnomah County's Northeast Health Center, located at 5329 N.E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 97211.

HBI offers assistance to African-Americans who are pregnant and/or parenting infants and children through individualized home visits, health education groups, mental health forums and community leadership development. HBI is part of the National Healthy Start Association, promoting community-based maternal and child health programs that focus on the reduction of infant mortality, racial disparities and low birth weight.