Advances in Perinatal Care and Increasing Race/Ethnic Disparity in Infant Mortality

Parker Frisbie, University of Texas at Austin
Seung-Eun Song, University of Texas at Austin
Daniel A. Powers, University of Texas at Austin

Although substantial declines in infant mortality rates have occurred across race/ethnic groups, there has been a marked increase in relative disparity in risk of infant death. The objective is to gain insight into the reasons for growing race/ethnic inequality based on cause-of-death specific data from linked birth/infant death cohort files for 1989-1991 and 1995-1998. We are particularly interested in widening disparities which followed in the wake of advances in perinatal care. We find that the relative gap between non-Hispanic white (NHW) infants and infants born to both non-Hispanic black (NHB) and Mexican American mothers increased when innovations in health care occur in a continuing context of social inequality. Models of absolute change demonstrate that, among low weight births, absolute declines in mortality from some leading causes were greater for NHW infants than for infants born to NHB and Mexican American women. However, these findings do not hold for infants born to Mexican immigrants.

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Presented in Session 118: African American Mortality and Health