The business of preventing African-American infant mortality Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • African-American women are twice as likely as women from other ethnic groups to have babies with low birth weights and to experience the loss of infant death. The problem is so endemic in black communities in Alameda County, California, that numerous programs have been developed over the past decade to reduce maternal risk factors and eliminate barriers to prenatal care. Despite these efforts, African-American ethnicity continues to be a major risk factor for infant mortality for reasons that are poorly understood. We take a critical look at 3 types of studies characteristic of infant mortality research: epidemiologic, studies that advocate prenatal care, and ethnomedical (cultural). We argue that the assumptions informing this research restrict the thinking about infant mortality and the political issues involved in how prevention programs are developed and structured. The persistent focus on maternal behavioral characteristics limits more in-depth analysis of the micropolitics of perinatal bureaucracies established in response to this ongoing crisis.

authors

  • Gates-Williams, J
  • Jackson, MN
  • Jenkins-Monroe, V
  • Williams, LR

publication date

  • January 1, 1992