Working with First 5 LA, Pritzker Fellow Will Help Implement Key Components of L.A. County Public Health Department’s Black Infant Mortality Reduction Plan
Los Angeles – African-American babies continue to die at higher rates than infants of other races. Seeking to eliminate this gap, First 5 LA announced today it has been selected to join a dozen other leading organizations nationwide to host a member of the inaugural cohort of the Pritzker Children’s Initiative Fellows Program. The fellows will help develop local solutions that can be scaled and considered for national adoption.
First 5 LA has partnered with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Center for Health Equity and Bureau of Health Promotion, which has developed a five-year plan aimed at narrowing the gap. Pritzker’s support includes funding for a full-time fellow to work jointly with First 5 LA and DPH to implement elements of the plan, largely focused on maternal stress reduction.
“Eliminating the infant mortality gap starts with understanding the root causes of the disparity,” said Kim Belshé, executive director of First 5 LA. “The mortality rate of pregnant African-American women and newborns demands an immediate response. We are proud to partner with the Pritzker Children’s Initiative and the L.A. County Department of Public Health in this effort to reduce the number of African-American infant deaths by improving policies and practices.”
In 2016, 10.4 out of every 1,000 black infants born in Los Angeles County died within their first year of life; meaning the mortality rate among infants is more than three times higher for black babies than white babies. Until recently, the gap was generally tied to variables such as a mother’s inadequate access to health care or higher cigarette smoking rates. Based on a growing body of research, however, DPH’s research reveals the disparity is largely attributable to the health implications of racism.