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Reasons why the mortality rate in African-American babies is higher than Caucasian babies

The risk of prematurity and low birth weight from stress can be passed on from generation to generation.

SAN ANTONIO — KENS5 is recognizing Black History Month 2022 through the month of February. Eyewitness News reporter Jeremy Baker takes a look at the mortality of African-American children, and why it can often be a problem.

When it comes to the mortality of African-American children, studies show it is two-and-a-half times higher in African-American children than Caucasian babies. A lot of it has to do with low birth weight. 

"If you look at something like congenital anomalies, it's only one point two higher than Caucasian. But if you look at low birth weight, it's it's, I think, three fold almost three fold higher in black or African-American babies than it is in white," said Dr. Steven Seidner, the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at UT Health San Antonio. 

Dr. Seidner says low-birth weight rates from black mothers in sub-Saharan Africa are no different than Caucasians. But in the U.S. because of those living in poverty and increased stress levels you see a much higher rate in those families.

Dr. Seidner said, "A mother who was stressed during her pregnancy may actually put her future daughter's pregnancy at more risk because of these epigenetic changes that occurred during that pregnancy." The risk of prematurity and low birth weight from stress can be passed on from generation to generation.

Dr. Dianna Burns, the managing partner of the South Texas for Pediatric Care started her practice on the east side of San Antonio 35 years ago with her own reasons to help. 

Dr. Burns told us, "The first was commitment to that area because it was an underserved area. And secondly, I grew up in the South, so that was very important for me to be an advocate for it, for children." 

Dr. Burns has seen firsthand how help is needed, and she has acted. She said, "It was my opportunity to give back, and I was in a position at this point where I could say things and do things and make things happen for kids like me that grew up like me."    

She says to fix the problem of higher rates of mortality for African-American children, society as a whole needs to be healthier. Dr. Burns added, "From a political standpoint and from a social standpoint that we really need to get our political system so that some that policies help to support and encourage better health for all of the members of our society."  

For more information about the health concerns of minorities the C.A. Whittier Medical Society here in San Antonio is a great resource with a network of physicians and healthcare providers. Check out the link

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