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Black infants face triple death rate of others

August 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, African-American infants in California are more than twice as likely to die during their first year of life compared to infants of other races.A local organization is trying to change that and they're hoping to get dads more involved in the health of their babies.

A majority of African-American children are born out of wedlock and most are raised by single mothers. The Black Infant Health Program understands how absent fathers can affect the health of their children. So they've developed a strategy to help new dads.

All parents have stress, but in some communities the stress can be even greater. Many African-American families don't survive the added economic, social and emotional burdens. One local program recognizes this need and is reaching out to new moms.

At the Black Infant Health Program in Mission Hills, moms are connected with resources, but most of all they feel relief knowing they're not alone.

0 African-American babies in California are 2 to 3 times more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome than babies of other races.

"Since 1850, the data of infant mortality in the black community has not reduced. It's alarming," said Yodit Abraha, Black Infant Health Program manager for the Mission City Community Network.

Experts believe the cause for the high rates of infant mortality in the black community may be many fold, from economic to social to possibly biological.

"The stressors that African-Americans walk with throughout a whole generation does impact physiological makeup. So it's a lot of stress hormones that are already high in the black community especially in the reproductive age of African-American woman," said Abraha.

The Black Infant Health Program helps families based on their needs. They offer infant care and other parent education seminars, as well as provide emotional and economic support.

"Love your children and love yourself because if you don't love yourself how are you going to love your child and take care of it, and get help. And it's OK to get help," she said.

Due to all the budget cuts, the state recently cut funding to the Black Infant Health Program. But they're staying afloat thanks to last minute help from the First Five Foundation. When that funding runs out, the organization will have to turn to private donors.

Former NBA Clipper star Pooh Richardson is teaming up with the Black Infant Health Program to raise awareness and help the program continue their important work with mothers and babies. They're holding a free community event with basketball workshops on Saturday, August 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Kids of all ages and experience levels will have an opportunity to get instruction from Richardson and a group of professional level players. Kids will be matched with others at their skill level and play in a game.

The event is taking place at James Monroe High School, located at 9229 Haskell Street in North Hills. To register to play, call (818) 830-6373.


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