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Racial Disparities in the United States Maternal Child Health Care

WHEREAS, infant mortality is the death of a live born baby before he/she reaches its first birthday. The impact of infant mortality is considerable: There are more than 28,000 deaths to children under one 1 year of age each year in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the 2006 infant mortality rate for the United States was 7.0 per 1000 for all races. There has since been a slight decline in the overall rate yet a glaring disparity persists for African Americans of at least 2- 3 times above the national average. In 2006 there were 13.4 deaths per thousand compared to the White rate of 5.6; and

WHEREAS, the United States infant mortality rate is higher than those in most other developed countries, and the gap between the United States and the rates for those with the lowest infant mortality appears to be widening. In 2004 (the latest year that data are available for all countries), the United States ranked 29th in the world in infant mortality, tied with Poland and Slovakia; and

WHEREAS, the Healthy People 2010 target goal for the United States infant mortality rate was set at 4.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in the year 2000. The only race/ethnicity group to achieve the Healthy People 2010 target goal as of 2005 was the Cuban population; and

WHEREAS, two of the most common preventable reasons for infant deaths are prematurity and low birth weight. The percentage of infants delivered preterm (less than 37 completed weeks of gestation) has been increasing since the mid-1980s, so that by 2004, one out of every eight infants in the United States was born preterm (12.5%). Nationally two to four times as many African American babies are born prematurely or of low birth weight compared to White babies; and

WHEREAS, infants born preterm have much higher mortality rates compared with term births (37-41 weeks of gestation). In 2004, nearly one-half or 46% of infant deaths to African American women and 41% of infant deaths to Puerto Rican women were due to preterm-related causes of death; and

WHEREAS, the infant mortality rate for African American mothers with over 13 years of education was almost three times that of White mothers in 2005 and the disparities persist across all socio-economic and educational levels for African Americans; and

WHEREAS, preterm births cost society at least $26 billion or $51,600 per premature babyper year. This includes money spent on medical care for short­ and long-term health conditions, educational expenditures and lost productivity for families of those babies who actually survive; and

WHEREAS, maternal mortality is the death of a woman related to pregnancy or childbearing and between two and three women die every day during pregnancy, birth or postpartum in the United States of America. There is also an alarming increase in severe pregnancy-related complications that nearly cause death, known as "near misses" incidents; and

WHEREAS, the 2006 maternal mortality rate for the U.S. was 13.3 deaths per 100,000 women for all races. There has been an increase, in general, and a widening of the racial gap, in particular, to 3-4 times the national average. In 2006 there were 34.8 African American deaths per 100,000 compared to 9.1 for White and 10.2 for Hispanic women; and

WHEREAS, obstacles to care are widespread, even though the U.S. spends more on health care per capita than any other nation and pregnancy and childbirth-related  hospital costs have now reached  $86 billion - more than any other type of hospital care; and

WHEREAS, nearly 13 million women of reproductive age (15 to 44), or one in five, have no health insurance. Minorities account for just under one-third of all women in the USA (32 percent) but over half (51 percent) of uninsured women; and

WHEREAS, women of color are more likely to experience discriminatory and inappropriate treatment and poorer quality of care. African American mothers were 2.5 times more likely than White mothers to begin prenatal care in the 3rd trimester, or not receive prenatal care at all. Burdensome bureaucratic procedures in Medicaid enrollment substantially delay access to vital prenatal care for pregnant women seeking government-funded  care.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms the 1992, 2002, 2006 and 2010 resolutions on women and children's health and will focus on eliminating financial barriers to health care, creating stronger policies for women's health and strengthening and improving the delivery of health services in the United States as well.