December 20, 20175:01 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition
RHITU CHATTERJEE, REBECCA DAVIS
“Black babies in the United States die at just over two times the rate of white babies in the first year of their life,” says Arthur James, an OB-GYN at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University in Columbus. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every 1,000 live births, 4.8 white infants die in the first year of life. For black babies, that number is 11.7.
NPR’s graph shows that the Hispanic infant mortality rate, 5.2, is well under half of the black rate too, but the article doesn’t mention the word “Hispanic,” much less “Asian.”
The majority of those black infants that die are born premature, says James, because black mothers like Pierce have a higher risk of going into early labor.
African-American women so vulnerable to losing their babies. Now, there is growing consensus that racial discrimination experienced by black mothers during their lifetime makes them less likely to carry their babies to full term.
In contrast, my guess is that the high rate of premature births and infant mortality among African-Americans is related to two problems, one that is conceivably fixable — high STD rates among black women — and one that might not be, short of genetic engineering.
It’s hard to get any data on this, but my impression is that the expected gestation length for blacks is shorter than for other races: 39 weeks vs. 40 weeks. This may be related to blacks tending to have narrower pelvises, as seen in the Olympics in their higher high end running speeds. In turn, that might tie in to Rushton’s r vs. K orientations.