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Research shows that Nebraska's infant mortality rate higher among Black babies

Posted at 7:29 PM, Apr 17, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Dr. Ann Anderson Berry with the Nebraska Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative has studied the discrepancies among Black infant deaths in the state,

According to her findings, in 2019 the infant mortality rate for white infants was 4.7, and 10.3 for Black infants per 1,000 deaths, a 119% increase.

Dr. Anderson Berry said the state's healthcare community is focusing on the disparity between how white and Black infants are surviving through their newborn and first year of life.

Nebraska is one of the few states that hasn’t expanded postpartum Medicaid coverage for expecting moms, according to Dr. Anderson Berry.

LB 419, a bill in the Nebraska Legislature, would expand coverage from the current 60 days after birth to one year.

I Be Black Girl, an Omaha-based organization, works to improve the lives of black women. A big part of that is through their Birth Justice Initiative.

Ashlei Spivey shares other socioeconomic factors such as affordable housing, wages, and health history are leading to higher death rates.

"The big elephant in the room is institutional racism within the medical system," Spivey said. "As well as our living environments."

Dr. Anderson Berry agrees and said lowering healthcare costs, improving transportation and access to healthy foods are just some of the solutions.

She said starting the process requires community awareness and policy change, and urges people to get involved.

"Take a close look and say, 'Do Black babies and Black moms matter,'" Dr. Anderson Berry said. "If so, 'What can I do to change policy today?'"

Spivey wants to make sure Black mothers play a key part in that change.

"The people that are most impacted that are pushed to the margins are experts in their own experiences," she said. "(They) should be curating the solutions on how we change a system that has not served us."

More information about the I Be Black Girl's Birth Justice Initiative can be found on its website, along with research conducted by the organization on the status of reproductive care in Omaha.

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