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New Infant Mortality Numbers Show Growing Racial Disparity

Pete Springer/OPB

New infant mortality numbers from Multnomah County show an increasing disparity between white women and women of color. The data is embedded in the Maternal, Child, and Family Health Data Book (pdf), which was updated earlier this month.

The report points out that the U.S. has the 28th worst infant mortality rate among industrialized nations. And in Multnomah County, 15 percent of babies had some sort of health issue at birth. Infant death occurred, on average, in 5.3 out of 1000 births in the county, but for African-American and American Indian/Alaska Native women, the rate was nearly double that.

Age, education level, and other socio-economic factors play a role, but racial disparities are reflected in almost every measure of infant health in the report. Multnomah County Health Officer Paul Lewis told OPB he believes there are deep societal and structural issues behind those numbers.


Editor’s note: This post has been changed to reflect the correct demographic categories in the report.

race motherhood babies multnomah county

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