Between the years of 2010 and 2015, the death rates of African American children in Sacramento County exceeded that of any other race. Out of the 873 children who died between 2010 and 2015, almost one-quarter of them were black youth. That’s twice the rate of white children, and three times the rate of Latino and Asian children according to the Sacramento Bee.
Why is this issue occurring? The common and most addressed theory is that it has to do with socioeconomic status. Due to historical oppression, people of color tend to be of a lower socioeconomic status, and they have less access to healthcare, or any other kind of medical resources. Some organizations are trying to combat this, such has Her Health First. Sacramento County even enacted its own health program specifically for black infants to combat this issue.
“As a Personal Advocate, I want to assure women that they don’t have to do this alone,” Kenya Fagbemi, program director, wrote on the Her Health First website, “I am here to help client’s problem solve some of the challenges that happen in their daily lives, that might directly or indirectly impact their pregnancy. We empower women with information, options, and an action plan, giving them the confidence to deal with whatever life throws at them.”
Latinos have the many of the same issues with poverty, but why not with infant deaths? This question raises another theory that affects every person of color despite their socioeconomic status.
The theory has to do with discrimination and the stress that the mother is under while the baby is still in utero. When a baby is still developing, they can be affected by the emotional state of their mother. If the mother is under stress during her pregnancy, it can create a variety of issues for the baby, even after it grows up.
Mental health issues also plague the black community due to poverty and discrimination. It could be a combination of these two issues is what is causing the higher mortality rates in black children, but nobody can say for sure until more research is done.