High Infant Mortality Rates In African Americans

To be honest I did very poorly on the health quiz, I got a 40%. What I found most interesting about the quiz though was the fact that America is so behind on the life expectancy list! The statistic about the United States life expectancy comparing 29th to other countries absolutely blew my mind considering how technologically advanced we are in our society.

The video I chose was regarding the premature births and higher death rates of children born to African American women living in the United States. This video was actually very interesting in the fact that it took all of the factors we talked about (genetics, economy, environment, etc.) and analyzed all of them in order to determine the leading cause of this prevalence. Initially there were studies to determine if socioeconomic status and education were the causes of this issue. Surprisingly it was found that these factors had very little to do with infant mortality rates and early birth rates, in fact the video stated that an educated African American women has a worse birth outcome than a white woman who does not even have a high school degree.

The studies then moved on to genetics, studying the theory that there may in fact be a “prematurity gene” that was more prevalent in African Americans. This factor too was found to be irrelevant as there is no such gene. However it was found that African American women who moved to the US from Africa were more likely to have higher infant mortality rates by their second generation, insinuating that it was due to some factor of American society. African American women born and raised in America as well as white women had much lower rates.

In the end, the video concluded that the most influential factor of these rates was in fact RACISM. The chronic stress due to racist events, comments, etc. is thought to be the main reason that African American have such a higher rate of birth issues. The video mentioned that black women are 50% more conscious about their race than white women, and that this constant mind set leads to stress factors such as inflammation which in turn can lead to early labor.

Therefore it was very interesting to see that all genetic factors aside, this increase was due to the method of treatment by other human beings. The fact that as people we can have such a significant impact on other people’s lives with simply our words and actions is absolutely mind blowing.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Hannah Weiss says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post on African American Women with high infant mortality rates. I thought it was extremly interesting that it is a subconscious stress reason for premature births in these infants. Genetics did not have to do with African Americans infant mortality. Instead it was concluded that the stress from racism led them to this lifestyle. Racism is such a strong and ugly element about the world we live in. Although it is easier said then done a way to solve this issue would be to STOP racism. Instead to love everyone equally and not to judge one another on their skin color. Also to make African American women feel more accepted and more comfortable with being in their own skin. To solve this issue is not economical, biological, or political but is instead individual. It takes each person to change their attitude to make everyone feel accepted. Racism is an issue that should be in the past and should no longer be prevalent today. We are all human and it is each of our duties to help others and causing stress on a group of people because of their skin color is a waste of valuable energy that could be spent on helping one another. It is much easier to be nice than mean.

  2. Amber Roberts says:

    I was very surprised to see that the high rates of infant mortality in African Americans is due to racism. The chronic stress of experiencing racism is thought to be the main reason that African Americans experience more birth issues. The video stated that African American women are 50% more conscious of their race than white women, and that this constant mind set creates stress which is a factor in inducing early labor. Although it is impossible to eliminate all racism in the world, one solution to this problem would be finding a way to make African American women feel more accepted and comfortable in society. I think that the solution lies within individuals and that it is up to each individual person to adjust their attitudes and feelings. I understand that racism can be a very touchy subject so it is very difficult to find a solution to this problem. We have been working for years to overcome racism but it takes more than just one person. In order for racism to truly be eliminated, everyone in society would need to adopt the same views and feelings, and accept one another equally. Although we cannot adjust the thoughts and feelings of others, everyone is responsible for their own words and actions, and one by one we can work together to create a future world free of racism.

  3. Francesca Rogers says:

    After reading your post, it is devastating to know that African American women have premature babies based on their stress levels from racial slurs. Not only do some have great jobs, supportive families, and a good income, but they themselves aren’t racist. Black women have a lot to put up with and are constantly worrying about what other people might say to them because they have a different skin color.
    I think a proper solution for the premature baby rates of black women should start in the society where these individuals reside. Not until we lower the cases of racism will these women be able to have a normal pregnancy. My solution is more of a political, ecological type. It obviously does not have to do with the genes of these woman, but instead the environment in which they try to live. Everyone is responsible for solving this problem. Women clinics, anonymous meetings, and help groups can be started to assist black women in lowering their stress levels of racism. I think we could add articles to newspapers and magazines and help spread the word about how much racism is affecting these women. Maybe, then, everyone could see the bigger picture.

  4. Desirae Jemison says:

    I found this case study to be the most interesting, mainly due to the fact I learned something new. I learned a lot reading this post, although I knew that America was ranked pretty far behind compared to other countries, I still find it mind blowing how even though we are one of the most developed countries are life expectancy is still quite low compared to other developed dountries and even undeveloped countries. I would have never known that race and racism played a major role in high infant mortality rates in African Americans. As mentioned in your post and the video; the chronic stress due to racist events is what is thought to be the main reason that African American have such a higher rate of birth issues compared to other races. A possible solution to this health problem based on the summary in the post would be to eliminate racism, but that’s not very realiaistic due to the society beig set in its ways. I don’t think racism will ever come to an end in this society. So based off that I really can’t think of a reasonable solution to end this health problem. Ending racism would be would be individual because ending racism depends on the individual changing its attitude and beliefs toward another race. The group who should be responsible for solving this health disparity would be every single person in the society, because it takes a whole society to want to eliminate racism for it to actually end or progress begin to show.

  5. Taylor Cheney says:

    I found your case study extremely interesting. When I began reading your post, at first, I did not foresee that the main reason for premature birth rates and deaths in infants was primarily the stress rate being so high in African American women. Your post really provided clarity, for me at least, of the huge differences in developed and under-developed countries and how it can effect people emotionally. As you mentioned in your post, the high stress levels in African American women is thought to be one of the prevalent reasons in high premature birth rates and infant mortality rates in those women’s children.

    As for a solution, I would say the most logical thing would be to end racism around the world, but people have been trying to achieve that for decades. If it were possible to resolve all race-related perceptions and dispositions, that would be an individual approach. Each person would have to find it within themselves to treat all races and cultures equal. It would not lie in the government, doctors, or any other groups, but individuals themselves. It takes more than one person to end racism, and everyone in the world would have to want to eliminate it for it to actually happen.

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