Black babies are more than twice as likely to die as white babies in Wake County, according to a new report prepared by the county’s Child Fatality Prevention Team/Community Child Protection Team.  

The report, which was presented to the Board of Commissioners Monday, looked at everyone who died in Wake County under the age of eighteen in 2016. Out of 103 fatalities, 71 were infants under a year old. Of those, blacks infants had a mortality rate 2.4 times higher than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts.

For every one thousand live births, the report says, 3 white infants and 3.5 Hispanic infants died, but 13.6 black infants did so. Wake County’s total infant mortality rate in 2016 was 5.5 per 1,000 births, better than the statewide rate of 7.2; among black infants, the county’s rate was slightly worse than the statewide rate of 13.4.

The most common cause of infant death in Wake is perinatal conditions, followed by birth defects.

The county views this disparity is a call to action. Chairwoman Jessica Holmes, one of two African-American commissioners, wants to create a task force to develop policies to lower the black infant mortality rate.

“Whether you live or die or how long you live shouldn’t be determined by your race, ethnicity, or zip code,” Holmes told the INDY.  

The report says that the differences in social determinants of health—things like access to health care, safe housing, transportation, and quality food—“are believed to contribute to the higher premature birth rate found in African-American women.” That, in turn, can lead to higher mortality rates.

“Social determinants of health means that the environment we live in affects our health and that includes race, where we live geographically, how safe our neighborhoods are, employment,  how much money our families make,” said Sara Merz of the nonprofit Advocates for Health in Action. “So the circumstances parents are in impacts their health, and their kids’ health and life expectancy, too.”

Next month, county staffers are scheduled to present a proposal to the Board of Commissioners on strategies to improve social determinants by including health outcomes in every facet of government services, from law enforcement to land-use planning. In addition, the county is working with community partners to promote better recognition and reporting of child abuse and mistreatment.

2 replies on “Black Babies Twice as Likely to Die as Whites in Wake County”

  1. Like single parent households…
    but lawd don’t let that deter anyone from chasing symptoms and throwing taxpayer treasure around. It will never fix the horrid born out of wedlock rate (~70% for black and 40% for whites)…
    To “fix” that the Great Society Government father must die… the one that replaced the black father. But that requires introspection and does not revel in victimization which keeps some employed.
    Poverty leads to a litany of destructive social ills, the number 1 cause of poverty is a single parent homes.
    After that is dismissed… there always the No.1 killer of black babies… planned parenthood.
    WOOT! but lets not go there… lets blame something we can throw money at…
    While in that frame of mind….anyone want to buy a boat?

  2. once you write that, you are telling everyone that the facts don’t support your claim, but since you know everything, we should give you money

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