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Group aims to reduce infant mortality rates

I am the CEO of Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network, a not-for-profit organization driven to improve the health of pregnant women and their babies. I am writing to ensure that the community is aware of the issue of infant mortality rates. September is National Infant Mortality Awareness Month.

Infant mortality is the number of infants who die during their first year of life. The rate in the United States is seven infant deaths per 1,000 live births, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With 13.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, African-Americans have the highest death rates among all ethnic and population groups. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, African-American infants are 2.4 times as likely to die as non-Hispanic white infants. The average infant mortality rate in the City of Buffalo (2007 to 2009) was 11.9 per 1,000 births – 15.4 deaths for African-American infants, 7.7 for Hispanic infants and 9.9 for white infants.

Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network strives to make a dramatic impact on the high rates of infant mortality, and the racial disparities associated with it. These disparities are prevalent in many of Buffalo’s high-need communities with large minority populations, high rates of unemployment and poverty and limited access to safe housing and medical providers. The network focuses on getting women into prenatal care as early in the pregnancy as possible. It is generally accepted by the medical and research community that early entrance into prenatal care is the single most critical factor in improving birth outcomes. Our programs work with women living in the community as outreach workers and home visitors as an effective method to successfully reach the most at-risk families.

To learn more please contact Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network at 884-6711.

Constance Schweitzer, Ed.M, M.S.

Buffalo