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Indiana’s Black Infant Mortality Rate Rising

Black infants have nearly double the mortality rate as non-Hispanic whites, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The mortality rate for black infants is on the rise in Indiana, even as the national rate is dropping.

A report from the Indiana Black Expo shows the black infant mortality rate has risen from just under 14.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004 to nearly 16.7 deaths in 2009—the year with the most recent statistics. At the same time the national rate dropped from nearly 13.8 deaths per 1,000 to about 12.6.

The Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Perinatal Network declined to comment on what could be causing the rise, but Indiana Black Expo spokesman Vernon Williams says his organization’s research shows it could be due in part to poor access to health insurance.

“For many of the people in that population, the doctor’s visit is the emergency room, and we know that that’s a dangerous way to live,” he says. “We know that by the time that happens, the situation is usually at a crisis stage.”

The Indiana Black Expo will develop a comprehensive plan in January, which Williams says will address a variety of issues facing the black community, including infant mortality.

“We want to form a coalition that really doesn’t have a precedent in terms of what you look at around the state and really around the nation because this is not a red or blue thing,” he says. “This is not about Democrats or Republicans. This is not liberals or conservatives. This is about children.”

Williams says no specific recommendations have been made, but when it comes to improving children’s health, nothing is off the table.

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