(Salt Lake City, UT) – Data collected by the Utah Department of Health in recent years confirm that African Americans and Pacific Islander babies are significantly more likely to die before their first birthday than other babies in Utah. The Office of Health Disparities (OHD) is working together with these communities to raise awareness of infant mortality and to develop effective interventions to promote healthy pregnancies.
The Office of Health Disparities in collaboration with the Maternal and Infant Health Program and the Office of Home Visiting, conducted the African American and Pacific Islander Postnatal Interview Study, Utah’s first ever qualitative study with African American and Pacific Islander mothers who had experienced an adverse birth outcome, such as the loss of a baby, preterm birth, or low birth weight. This study notably focused on identifying social determinants of health – factors such as the environment, social dynamics, and access to healthcare – that may affect mothers and their unborn babies during pregnancy.
Participants described conditions in their lives during and before pregnancy such as unsafe living conditions, financial difficulties, relationships problems, encounters with racism and other stressors. Most of these women had unplanned pregnancies, were significantly less likely to receive prenatal care and were overweight or obese. Lydia Afualo Muavesi of the Children’s Service Society applauds the study for “looking at all the other issues that can affect a pregnancy – like housing and paying bills and domestic situations – and not just eating healthy and exercising.”
The report provides specific recommendations for healthcare providers, public health agencies, and community organizations that work with African American and Pacific Islander women and families. Study results and more information on health disparities are available online through the OHD ( https://www.health.utah.gov/disparities/data/RestoftheirLivesStudy.pdf).
Office of Health Disparities
(385) 315 0220