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Published: Friday, 4/26/2002

Death and black babies

The infant mortality rate among black babies is alarmingly high. Both nationally and locally, it's twice as high as that for white babies. Health professionals must dig aggressively to find out why.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which examined 60 cities with more than 250,000 residents between 1995 and 1998, reveals that the average infant mortality rate among blacks was 13.9 for every 1,000 live births. For whites, the rate was 6.4 and for Hispanics, it was 5.9.

The black infant mortality rate for every 1,000 live births in Toledo was 12.2. Among whites in Toledo, the rate was 5.6.

While the results of the study don't surprise some health-care professionals, why the infant mortality rate among blacks is so high is not made clear. Is it due to higher rates of poverty? Lack of access to health care? Is it due to environmental, biological, or behavioral influences?

A medical epidemiologist at the CDC says it's a complicated issue, and points to numerous factors that affect black women's health. There's no doubt about that.

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