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A Healthy Baby Begins with You

A Healthy Baby Begins with You “A Healthy Baby Begins with You”

This is the theme of the infant mortality awareness campaign of the Office of Minority Health (OMH), of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The national campaign was launched in 2007 but the issues it is addressing are as relevant now as it was two years ago.

It is sad but true- infant mortality rates are twice as high among African Americans as compared to the general population. According to the March of Dimes peristats, in 2005, 28,384 infants died within one year of delivery, equivalent to a mortality rate of 6.8 per 1,000 live births. The average US mortality infant mortality rates in 2003 to 2005 based on ethnicity are (per 1,000 live births):

  • African American 13.6
  • Native American 8.5
  • White 5.7
  • Hispanic 5.6
  • Asian 4.7

Other statistics from OMH are:

  • The rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) among African American babies is 1.8 times than the rest of the population.
  • They are 4 times as likely to die from low birth weight complications.
  • African American mothers are less likely to get prenatal care.

But the majority of infant deaths are preventable. And that is the goal of the awareness campaign that includes several activities and events including educational campaigns on preconception and interconception issues. Especially targeted are the 18+ population of African American descent but other ethnic groups as well.

I believe that infant mortality prevention is not only an ehtnic issue. It is a universal issue.

And the message is this: A woman should take care of herself and her health long before her pregnancy. Because a healthy baby starts with healthy parents, most especially the mom.

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