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Baby Steps: Report Spotlights Racial Disparities At Birth

Across the nation, Black babies have some of the highest rates of infant mortalities and birth outcomes such as low birthweight, according to a new report by nonprofit Zero to Three.


The group analyzes baby outcomes every year, and this year, they found that infant mortality was higher for Hispanic babies than White babies, but far higher for Black babies – in parts of the Mountain West, more than three times higher.

"This is a time to really look at what’s important and think about not going back to the status quo, but how do we put in stronger policies and build for the future so that we’re correcting some of these inequities that exist for our babies," said Patricia Cole, Zero to Three's senior director of federal policy.

The group analyzed data from several different databases, including census surveys. It also analyzed factors that could contribute to poor baby outcomes in any given state, like access to family support programs or healthcare.

In the Mountain West, the biggest disparity in infant mortality is in Wyoming, where, according to the report, the rate for White babies is 4.7 for every 1000 births. For Hispanic babies, that number is 5.8, and for Black babies it’s 15. About a quarter of babies born there are of color.

In Colorado, the region's most populous state, the infant mortality rate for White babies is 4 per 1000 births. For Hispanic babies, that number is 5, and for Black babies it’s 8.6. Forty-four percent of babies born in Colorado are of color.

According to CDC data, American Indian and Alaska Native people suffer infant mortality rates nearly as high as black people.

"These are our future workers and innovators and leaders, and the foundation that we’re giving them today is going to determine how they do in the future," Cole said.

Find reporter Madelyn Beck on Twitter  @MadelynBeck8

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

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