News Column

Minority Women Need Better Access to Health Care to Stem Infant Mortality, Says CDC

July 11, 2012

Harry Jackson Jr.

A new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges improved access to health care for minority women in order to reduce the infant mortality rates.

Black, Hispanic and other minority women have higher mortality rates than white women, says a study published in the Journal of Women's Health. The study linked the disparity to poor access to health care. That includes greater access to preventive care and preconception and reproductive counseling, the study says.

The article is "Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Preconception Risk Factors and Preconception Care."

It names five risk factors that threaten infant mortality among minority women. They include: drinking, cigarette smoking, obesity, diabetes, and frequent mental distress. The risk factors, often not avoided during pregnancy, cause much of infant mortality, the study says. Of the 54,000-plus women ages 18 to 44 years, who were examined, 80 percent had one risk factor, 20 percent had two or more, the study said.

Public policy and health care financing as well as availability are crucial to reverse the disparity among low-income women, says an editorial in the Journal, "Forthcoming Changes in Healthcare Financing and Delivery Offer Opportunities for Reducing Racial Disparities in Risks to Reproductive Health."

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Source: (c)2012 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Distributed by MCT Information Services