Disparities in birth outcomes . . . Prenatal care may not be enough

In the documentary Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us Sick, produced by California Newsreel, Episode 3 When the Bough Breaks looks at possible causes of racial/ethnic disparities found in infant mortality (click excerpt below). Dr. Michael Lu, OB-GYN at the Geffen School of Medicine UCLA,  shares his thoughts on the subject. He states “the biggest myth about racial ethnic disparities in infant mortality is that people think that this has to do with just socioeconomics and that disparities are really the consequences of racial differences and socioeconomic status. It isn’t that simple.”

Infant Mortality in  . . .

  •  White women with college education is 4 deaths for every 1000 live births
  •  Yet in. . .college educated African American women the rate is  10.2 deaths for every 1000 live births 
  •  Which is higher than . . .9 deaths for every 1000 live births for White women who did not graduate from High School 
  • Why the disparity?

Possible answers from the documentary  . . .

  •  Birth outcomes are affected by the negative impact of racism over one’s lifetime, not just during pregnancy.
  •  Racism in America is an added source of chronic stress for people of color.
  •  Racial justice & civic engagement are instruments for improving health & birth outcomes

Some questions to ask ourselves:

  • How often do you have the opportunity to talk about racism? With people of your racial/ethnic background? With people from other racial/ethnic backgrounds?
  • How is your experience with racism similar to or different from your colleagues, your patients/clients?

 It is time to engage in the conversation

about racism & the impact on the health!

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