Panel recommends home visits, community trust efforts to reduce infant mortality

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Health officials offered a variety of interventions to lower infant mortality at last week’s Results Washington panel, which focused on the disparities among the Native American and African-American communities.

On average, approximately one Washington infant dies every day, which means the infant dies before their first birthday. Causes include premature birth, sudden infant death syndrome and low birth weight. While Washington ranks fifth lowest in the nation for overall infant mortality, the rates in Native American and African-American communities in the state are higher.

Data shows this disparity across racial and ethnic lines. Research on infant mortality and maternal health among black women point to several factors, which includes the stress of racism and sexism, said Results Washington director Inger Brinck.

“To put it bluntly, it’s very stressful being black in America,” Brinck said.

Gov. Jay Inslee attended the panel and asked experts what the state can do to improve infant mortality outcomes, specifically among these two communities.

“The fact that we still have racial disparities is painful for us,” Inslee said.

The effects of racism affect the birth outcome of communities of color, said Dr. John Wiesman, secretary of health at Washington State Department of Health. Basically, there aren’t enough support systems in place to combat the stress of racism.

Among Native American and Alaska Native communities, the leading cause of death among infants is sudden infant death syndrome. For African-American infants, the leading cause is low birth weight or pre-term birth.

Read the rest of the story on the governor's Medium page.

Media Contacts

Tara Lee
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office