Monday, May 19, 2008

Circle of life

I found this story via the Capitol Fax morning shorts today. Another health related story involving blacks:

Gwen Baldwin eagerly is awaiting the birth of her first grandchild, a boy.

Baldwin checks in regularly with her son to make sure he and his wife are doing all the right things, such as going to regular prenatal check-ups and eating healthy. Baldwin tells her son, who lives in Arizona, not to smoke around his wife. He assures her he's not.

Her entire perspective on pregnancy has changed since she became project facilitator for the Circle of Wise Women, which works in conjunction with the Kane County Health Department on community outreach regarding African-American infant mortality.

She is still shocked at the statistics.

The five-year average, from 2001 to 2005, for African-American infant mortality was 13.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in Kane County, according to the Kane County Health Department.

According to Uche Onwuta, the health department's chief epidemiologist, that is more than double the rate for whites, with 5.8 per 1,000 live births.

"I look at pregnancy differently and I look at babies differently," said Baldwin, of Elgin. "I see life as a huge gift and we really need to embrace it."

I wonder what is the problem why do blacks have high infant mortality rates. Here are more stats:
Roughly 16 percent of babies born to African-American women weigh less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces, compared to 7 percent for whites, according to the most recent birth data released in 2005, Onwuta said.

"When I go to the African-American community, no one is really aware of the statistics," Baldwin said. "When I start sharing it, it's new to them. Then people ask, 'What is it in the African-American community?"

The reasons for such high statistics are complex, but the lack of prenatal care is a major problem, Baldwin said.

Often, African-American women do not take care of themselves before getting pregnant and do not seek medical care after getting pregnant, Baldwin said. It creates a domino effect that could lead to low birth weight and infant mortality.

"If we have a healthy mother, we'll get a healthy baby," Baldwin said.

I hope you're noticing a pattern in some of these stories of blacks and their health. We don't seem to be doing a good job in taking care of ourselves out there. Especially if you believe in these statistics. Of course I'm talking about eating right and preventative care, certainly not treatment.

Of course some could also bring up the high risk activities blacks might engage in. That could include the consumption of narcotics and alcohol, cigarettes, driving fast, criminal activity. A person could control that but they can also control their diet and how regularly they can see a doctor.

I beg a question, what should we do about this?

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