March of Dimes Raises Awareness About Racial Disparities in Premature Birth

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Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014 1:03 pm | Updated: 2:58 pm, Thu Jan 30, 2014.

Maitland, FL – In a  celebration of the rich African-American culture the March of Dimes is raising awareness about the significant disparity in prematurity rates between black infants and those of other races.

According to the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, the preterm birth rate for black infants was 17.5 percent, followed by Hispanic, 12.8 percent; Asian, 11.5 percent; and white and Native American at 11.1 percent each. Racial and ethnic disparities also occur in other birth outcomes, such as low birthweight and infant mortality.

“This important celebration of the African-American heritage is a great opportunity to talk about the high prematurity rates that persist among the black community,” said Dr. Karen Harris, Chair of the Program Services Committee for the Florida Chapter of the March of Dimes.

“Although we have no definitive explanations for why prematurity affects this group more often than others, poor prenatal care, malnutrition, socioeconomic status, genetics, stress and unhealthy habits, such as smoking, might all be contributing factors.”

According to the CDC, between 2006 and 2010 the preterm birth rate for black infants decreased by eight percent; however, it still remained approximately 60 percent higher that of white infants. They also said that  black infants have the highest risk for preterm birth since at least 1981. 

Dr. Harris says that the group is committed to stopping the trend. 

“We are urging the state to support funding and innovative practices that address fundamental medical and social factors related to racial disparities in premature birth.”

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