The City of Milwaukee is concerned about babies dying:
The Journal Sentinel said Milwaukee had an “infant mortality crisis.” Milwaukee’s infant mortality rate in 2009 was 10.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births, according to the city’s health department. As noteworthy as this overall rate is the racial breakdown: For white babies, the rate was 5.4; for blacks, 14.1, the JS said.
The city has set a goal of reducing the infant mortality rate for blacks by 15 percent, and the overall rate by 10 percent by 2017, the JS said.
One wonders, if the white and black infant mortality rates were equal, would there be quite as much concern?
It would seem that race affects infant mortality more than socio-economic status. One study came up with the following graph:
Of course, high infant mortality among American blacks is not confined to Milwaukee. It is the norm all over America. Some people, noting this, try to explain the racial disparity as a byproduct of racial discrimination. Ziba Kashef writes:
According to Dr. Michael Lu, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecologyand public health at UCLA, researchers have found that even when they control for such varied factors as poverty, housing, employment, medical risk, abuse, social support and so on, 90 percent of the differences in birth weight between black and white moms remains unaccounted for. “Most studies have looked at black-white differences during pregnancy, for example, differences in prenatal careutilization or maternal behavior,” he says. “What we’re finding is that these differences really explain very little of the disparities in birth outcomes.”
Even genetics fail to provide answers. To test the hypothesis, Dr. James W. Collins, Jr., associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Medical School, compared birth outcomes of African American and Africa-born mothers in Illinois over a 15-year period. He assumed if there was something about African genes that caused poor birth outcomes, the statistics for African-born women might actually be worse. But Collins and his colleagues found that the babies of African-born women had birth weights similar to those of white American women and higher than those of black American women…
If the cause is not a shared gene, perhaps it’s a shared experience. For instance, the immune system begins to develop in utero and matures over time. During certain critical periods of development, Dr. Lu points out, the immune system can be adversely affected by certain experiences and exposures, such as repeated infections or undue stress. These exposures may pattern the immune system in a particular way that sets the stage for increased risk to poor health and poor birth outcomes. A mother with less than optimal immune response may give birth to a baby with less than optimal immune response and so on.
Chronic emotional stress results from many factors, including physically demanding jobs and a lack of control in the workplace, single parenthood, and financial worries–all problems experienced disproportionately by women of color. Discrimination is also a documented source of harmful stress. One study found that women who gave birth to very low birth weight babies were more likely to have experienced racial discrimination than women who had normal weight babies.
The above theory is now the pet theory within the establishment. Yes, stress can cause health problems. For example, in one experiment, middle-aged men were locked in a room for weeks at a time while voices were played over loudspeakers, over and over again, “Your heart is failing. You’re going to DIE from a heart attack! You’re going to DIE!” Sure enough, those men died of heart attacks*.
Perhaps the media, schools, scientists and corporations should stop screaming at black women, “You’re victims of racism. You’re suffering because of racism! You’re all going to DIE because of racism!“. I’d be stressed out too if they did that to me.
But back to the genetic factor. I wonder if the “Africa-born mothers in Illinois” were from the same region in Africa where most American blacks hail from. Not all Africans are the same; Africa is a very diverse continent. Another thing to consider is that the white admixture in American blacks might be causing the problems. Perhaps premature, and underweight, babies are a byproduct of hybridization. In any case, it does not appear as if the genetic possibilities were thoroughly examined.