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Infant mortality forum


Troubled over the fact that Black babies still are dying at double, and in some cases, triple the rate of any other ethnic group in this country before their first birthday, Great Beginnings for Black Babies Inc. will host a community forum, “The Young and the Breathless: Why are Black Babies Still Dying?” free brunch, film screening and expert panel discussion beginning at 11:30 a.m., Saturday at the Lucy Florence Cultural Center, 3351 W. 43rd St., Los Angeles.

The forum will present a screening of “When the Bough Breaks,” from the PBS series “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” and will also offer expert insight from a number of well known panelists.

Infant mortality has disproportionately plagued people of African descent since the beginning of enslavement in the Americas, according to “Slavery in the United States: A Social, Political, and Historical Encyclopedia.”

Initially attributing high infant death rates to poor hygiene and the ignorance of enslaved Black women in the late 1880’s, documentation now suggests that “the political economy of slavery itself,” which now manifests as institutionalized racism, may be more at fault.

Most recent studies have shown that African immigrants do not experience the same level of infant mortality or other chronic illnesses as those whose ancestors were brought to the United States involuntarily on slave ships. However, just one generation later, voluntary African immigrants’ children are experiencing the same type and same disproportionate level of illnesses as those of African descent, who are born in America. A big portion of all health problems affiliated with African Americans is attributed to what is now known as stress-related racism.

In fact, maternal anxiety induced by social stressors has come to be known as a significant risk factor for premature birth, low birth weight and shorter gestation periods, which account for more than 60 percent of infant deaths in the United States.

With an average 6.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, the United States ranks 33rd in the nearly nine million worldwide infant deaths annually. The numbers are skewed by the significantly disproportionate deaths of African American babies.

The brunch and community forum are free however, reservations are requested. For additional information, contact Dera Baskin at (310) 677-7995, ext. 14.