Black Births Matter: Addressing the Injustices of African-American Mothers and Infants

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Marilyn Schonhard


African American women face a particularly difficult inequity surrounding their healthcare, especially when pregnant. For decades, the United States has used infant mortality rates to measure the health of each pregnant population. Efforts have been made to decrease these rates by expanding health coverage and implementing the national Healthy Start initiative. The Healthy Start Initiative was created with the intent of reducing infant mortality rates by 50% over a 5-year period through providing proper prenatal care, ensuring basic health needs are met, and reducing barriers to healthcare access (National Healthy Start Association, 2015). However, only minuscule changes in the death rate gaps between races have been seen since the program was enacted. (Kirby, 2017). While rates are dependent upon location, Michigan had a rate of about 15.1 black infant deaths for every 4.5 white infant death in 2018 (Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, 2020). These rates have decreased within the past few decades, but black infants continue to die at a much higher rate than white infants. Eliminating the gap begins with addressing the root of the disparities head on, which is racism, and looking inward at one's own assumptions and stereotypes that are unconsciously made. 

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Schonhard, M. (2020). Black Births Matter: Addressing the Injustices of African-American Mothers and Infants. Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning & Community-Based Research , 10, 10-14. Retrieved from
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