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“If you look at infant mortality in the African-American community, the risk of infant mortality is about double that of white babies and if you look at the causes of infant mortality, preterm birth is number one.”

Scott Berns, MD, MPH, FAAP
Senior Vice President,
March of Dimes

Healthier Babies, Healthier Moms

The statistics for infant mortality reveal the distressing reality of health disparities among racial and ethnic populations in the United States. African-American women are twice as likely as white women to give birth prematurely. African-American infants are twice as likely as white infants to die in their first year.

Helping women from vulnerable populations have full-term pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies is a key focus of much of our work in health equity. We support research and best practices to help all babies have a healthy start in life.

With a grant from the Aetna Foundation, the March of Dimes has embarked on an evaluation of a group prenatal program called CenteringPregnancy®, which the organization supports in more than 80 communities around the country. The March of Dimes’ objective is to assess the effectiveness of the program with African-American women, the population that is at highest risk of giving birth prematurely. Ultimately, the March of Dimes will develop enhancements for the program so the initiative can be more successful in recruiting and retaining at-risk pregnant women.

In 2010, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation awarded $1.24 million in grants to support research that addresses racial and ethnic equity in health care. Among those focused on healthier babies are a study by the University of California, San Francisco on the high rates of cesarean childbirth among African-American women and an analysis by the Center for Health Care Strategies on the quality of Medicaid-funded obstetrics and pediatric care.