Report: Some Utah babies more at risk of dying before first birthday

Published: Thursday, July 10 2014 4:55 p.m. MDT

Compared with whites, both Pacific Islander and African-American mothers had higher rates of obesity, gestational diabetes, chronic hypertension, preterm birth history and shorter intervals between children, in addition to a more widespread lack of proper prenatal care.

Existing health conditions during pregnancy can increase the risk of stillbirth and preterm birth, disease, birth defects and infant mortality.

Many of the women surveyed said they felt uninformed and unprepared when they experienced poor birth outcomes a second time. They also expressed ambivalence about family planning measures, the report states.

While the numbers of Utahns impacted may seem small, Fitisemanu said the prevalence of poor birth outcomes within the identified communities makes it more of an urgent issue.

"This issue exists, but it can be addressed," he said.

With the help of medical businesses and industry partners, as well as church groups and local organizations such as the Queen Center, the health department plans to disseminate information about healthy pregnancies in culturally responsible ways, and in multiple languages so it can reach more people.

The report provides specific recommendations for health care providers, public health agencies and community organizations that work with African-American and Pacific Islander women and families. For a copy of the report, visit www.health.utah.gov/disparities/data/RestoftheirLivesStudy.pdf. For more information on health disparities, visit www.health.utah.gov/disparities.

"Bringing awareness and educating are keys with any society," Ah You said. "A lot of times people don't know there is a problem and then they don't know it could sometimes be prevented."

Email: wleonard@deseretnews.com, Twitter: wendyleonards

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