Infant mortality in the United States is considerably higher than other developed countries. One of the leading causes of this tragic statistic is low birth weight (LBW, 2500 g). An infant’s birth weight can be utilized as a predictor for health and directly linked to future health risks and outcomes (Holland, Kitzman, & Veazie, 2009). In the United States, the population group with the highest incidence of LBW is African American women. This perinatal racial disparity is evidenced by a wide array of social, cultural and behavioral factors that have an impact on LBW infants born to African American women. This paper will examine those contributing factors.
Target ...view middle of the document...
“However, the rate of decline in infant mortality between specific varies and African American infants have experienced a slower decline than Caucasian infants have” (Dailey, 2009, p. 340). Since 1940, the racial disparity gap between African American infants and white infants has widened (Dailey, 2009). Racial disparities pertaining to perinatal outcomes are a serious problem in the United States. Infant mortality in the United States is much higher than other developed countries, with the mortality rates for African Americans twice that of the mortality rates for White Americans (Collins, Wambach, David, & Rankin, 2009). But despite some improvement in the infant mortality rate in the United States, black infants are twice as likely to die during the first year of life than white infants.
Low birth weight (LBW, 2500 g) is a primary indicator for mortality risk in the first year and is the leading factor behind the racial disparity in the mortality rates of infants (Collins et al., 2009). It accounts for 20% of all neonatal deaths in the United States. African American women are the population of people that experience the highest rate of low birth infants (Dailey, 2009). In response to the major public health concern represented by low birth weight, Healthy People 2010 called for a decrease in the overall infant mortality in the United States and the elimination of racial disparity in infant mortality rates (Collins et al., 2009).
The long-term impact of an infant born with low birth weight (LBW) is vast. The health care costs associated with low birth weight (LBW) are dramatically increased. These costs continue throughout the infant’s life as the risks of low birth weight (LBW) include chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart disease (Holland et al., 2009). Another long-term impact of low birth weight (LBW) on infants is that the LBW children have “worse cognitive, psychological, behavioral and educational outcomes (Holland et al., 2009, p. 390). Numerous factors exist that are related to low birth weight (LBW). They “include sociodemographic factors, medical risks, risk of current pregnancy, health care and environmental and behavioral risks” (Holland et al., 2009, p. 391).
Relationship Between Health Issue and Target Population
The relationship between low birth weight and African American women can best be described by applying the ecological model. The ecological model presents the suggestion that “birth outcomes are impacted by maternal and family characteristics, which are in turn strongly influenced by the larger community and society” (Alio et al., 2010, p. 557). In addition to these characteristics, a key component to understanding the culturally based disparity of infant mortality, it is essential that the history of the black woman be examined for the historical context. According to Alio et al., (2010), “the ecological model provides a framework for examining and contextualizing...