Racial disparities in infant mortality are growing in Michigan according to a new study by the Michigan League for Human Services:
“Right Start in Michigan – 2008: Targeting Disparity in Infant Mortality found that while infant mortality rates dropped from 8.1 to 7.6 deaths per 1,000 births between the periods of 1998-2000 and 2004-2006, racial disparity persisted. Statewide, African-American infants are three times more likely to die before their first birthday…
The Right Start report examines 10 counties where more than 90 percent of the state’s African-American babies are born. Wayne County is separated into Detroit and out-Wayne.
In 2004-2006, Ingham County had the highest infant mortality rate for African-American infants at 20.1 deaths per 1,000 births compared with a white rate of 4.3. Detroit’s rate was 16.9 for black infants and 4.7 for white babies.
The gap between white and black infant mortality rates grew in Detroit and in Macomb, Washtenaw, Genesee, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent and Saginaw counties. It dropped in Oakland and Berrien counties and in out-Wayne County.”
A 2007 study of racial disparities in infant mortality speculated that low birth weight among African-American babies–one of the leading causes of infant mortality–is due to racial discrimination at both the individual and institutional levels.