Half the Chance at Life: An Investigation of Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality Rates in Calhoun County, Michigan
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In Calhoun County, Michigan, the rate of infant mortality an1ong black mothers is nearly twice the rate among white mothers. Infant mortality, rooted in complicated and interrelated factors such as poverty, health care access, neighborhood conditions, nutrition and behavior, is considered an indicator of population health and often reveals social inequities. This study explores the high rate of infant mortality among black mothers through interviews with health professionals and area experts, and analysis of birth and death files from 2005-2009. Race was found to be the leading determinant of infant mortality in Calhoun County. High poverty rates among blacks suggest that socioeconomic disadvantage, perpetuated by historical and institutionalized racism, 1nay be the primary route through which race determines health. Despite the evident racial health disparities in Calhoun County, health professionals interviewed were hesitant to name racism as a root cause of racial health disparities, indicating minilnization and naturalization of racism within the health care system. 'T'his study serves as a primary investigation of race and health in Calhoun County, calling for further research and action to directly address racial health inequities.