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Black infant mortality rates rise, according to new data

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Black infant mortality rates in Indiana grew last year, while rates for white and Hispanic babies continued to drop.

There are a variety of factors for why babies don’t survive, but some health advocates said ongoing disparities play a role.

Indiana typically sees about 80,000 births a year, so several hundred deaths may seem like a small amount. But some advocates say even that’s too much.

Catina Briggs is about eight-and-a-half months pregnant. In a matter of weeks, she’ll welcome baby number three.

Her last pregnancy was a little rough, so she’s learned quite a bit.

“For me, I ask questions. So I’m already trying to figure out — how is the hospital? How are the labor and delivery nurses? I’m looking at reviews — I’ve been doing it all,” she said.

Disparities in Black maternal mortality rates have improved with Black celebrities coming forward about their near-death experiences giving birth — but Black infant mortality rates still cause concern. Briggs is making it the focus of her Doctor of Health Administration dissertation.

“Now, this may be a one-year blip, so it may not be that great of concern — other than we’ve not figured out how to eliminate or significantly reduce the disparity of Back babies dying at two-plus times the rate of white babies,” said Carl Ellison, president and CEO of the Indiana Minority Health Coalition.

He added that failure to receive prenatal care in the first trimester can play a factor. Other factors include not knowing you’re pregnant until after the first trimester. He mentioned other barriers that may affect prenatal care, such as transportation and access to timely appointments.

The state is continuing to expand its My Healthy Baby program, which is geared at pointing mothers and expectant mothers to resources.

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