Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Some Utah Babies More Likely to Die Than Others

New UDOH Study Seeks to Better Understand Disparities in Infant Mortality

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Data collected by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) in recent years confirm that African American 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 with these communities to raise awareness of infant mortality and to develop effective interventions to promote healthy pregnancies.

OHD, 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. It is 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. The study notably focused on identifying social determinants of health such as the environment, social dynamics, and access to health care that affect mothers and babies during pregnancy. 

Participants described conditions in their lives during and before pregnancy, including:  unsafe living conditions, financial difficulties, relationship 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 well and exercising.”

The report provides specific recommendations for health care providers, public health agencies, and community organizations that work with African American and Pacific Islander women and families. For a copy of the report, visit For more information on health disparities, see

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