Black infant mortality is a complicated puzzle that includes poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate prenatal care, teen pregnancy, heredity, high blood pressure, stress, obesity, low birth weights and prematurity. However, some neonatologists and child health advocates have pushed for more research to get behind the social reasons why these factors seem to take a higher toll on African-American infants than they do on other babies.
Though the infant mortality rate for all races has decreased over the past two decades, the United States still has one of the highest rates among developed nations. In this country, the infant mortality rate for black babies is 13.5 per 1,000 live births, compared with roughly 5.7 for whites and Hispanics, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The problem is especially acute in rural areas such as Mississippi's Delta region along U.S. 61, and urban centers such as Washington, D.C., and Memphis, Tenn. — which has a zip code where the infant mortality rate is higher than those of many Third World nations.