HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Friday, October 5, 2007

Infant Mortality Rates Compared

The New York Times reports on disparities in infant mortality rates around the New York city area.

The  infant mortality rate, a general barometer for public health which measures the number of children who die before age 1, was 12.5 deaths per thousand in 2006 and 11.3 deaths per thousand from 2004 to 2006 in Brownsville. Other communities with persistently high infant mortality from 2004 to 2006 include Jamaica East (9.1 per 1,000) and Central Harlem (7.9 per 1,000).

Over all, the city rate fell to to 5.9 infant deaths for every 1,000 births, down from 6 the previous year. It is lower than the national rate, which was 6.8 per 1,000 births from 2004 to 2006, the most recent number on record. In recent decades, the infant mortality rate has been decreasing across the country. However, in the last two years, progress has stalled in the Deep South.

The districts with the lowest rates are the Lower West Side (2.6 per 1,000), Kips Bay-Yorkville (2.9 per 1,000), and Sunset Park (3.2 per 1,000).

From highest to lowest, the infant mortality rates of the five boroughs in 2006 are the Bronx (7.1 per 1,000), Brooklyn (6.0 per 1,000), Queens (5.3 per 1,000), Manhattan (4.2 per 1,000) and Staten Island (3.4)

A troubling and persistent phenomenon over the last decade is that infant mortality rates for black and Puerto Rican New Yorkers are more than double those for whites and Asians — a gap persists even when poverty is factored out. Infants born to higher-income black women died at nearly three times the rate of those born to higher-income white women.

Academics have sliced race and infant mortality relationship in a variety of lenses — historicalsocioeconomic distress and even the impact of the New Deal. Some experts believe the stress of experiencing of racial discrimination may affect the health of black women.

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