Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Preconception Counseling: Part II

(Continued from Part I)

While preconception health should be a concern for everyone, the training I received was part of a campaign trying to improve the infant mortality rates specifically in the African American population.

Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is the number of infants that die before their first birthday, usually expressed per 1,000 infants born. Data from the CIA Factbook, 2006.

United States 6.43 deaths per 1,000 births
Cuba 6.22 deaths per 1,000 births

Countries with excellent numbers would be:

Japan 3.24 deaths per 1,000 births
Sweden 2.76 deaths per 1,000 births

Out of all industrialized countries in the world, the United States has the worst IMR. When you stratify our numbers by race, an even more alarming picture appears:

White 5.5 deaths per 1,000 births
This is comparable to countries like Ireland and Greece.

Black 13.3 deaths per 1,000 births
This is comparable to some Caribbean countries like St. Lucia and Dominica.

(As a side note, the country with the worst IMR is Angola at 185.36.)

It's like White and Black Americans are living in two completely different countries when it comes to health. Socioeconomic status, access to health care and even the stress of racism are all factors in this health disparity. These numbers are absolutely shameful in the United States, one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world.

What can be done? Part of the training was encouraging peer-to-peer education. Trained counselors are going to colleges to spread the word about preconception health and the realities of infant mortality specifically in the African American population.

The A Healthy Baby Begins With You Campaign holds events and trainings around the country.

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