Racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality

Semin Perinatol. 2011 Aug;35(4):209-20. doi: 10.1053/j.semperi.2011.02.018.


Racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality in the United States seem to defy all attempts at elimination. Despite national priorities to eliminate these disparities, black infants are 2.5 times more likely to die in infancy compared with non-Hispanic white infants. This disparity is largely related to the greater incidence among black infants of prematurity and low birth weight, congenital malformations, sudden infant death syndrome, and unintentional injuries. This greater incidence, in turn, is related to a complex interaction of behavioral, social, political, genetic, medical, and health care access factors. Thus, to influence the persistent racial disparity in infant mortality, a highly integrated approach is needed, with interventions adapted along a continuum from childhood through the periods of young adulthood, pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. The content and methodologies of these interventions need to be adapted to the underlying behaviors, social influences, and technology and access issues they are meant to address.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality / ethnology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People