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Orange County's Black Infant Mortality Rate is Troubling

While Florida's infant mortality rate is improving among all populations, Orange county's black infant mortality remains a trouble spot. The state's black infant mortality has reached a historic low with Orange county being the exception.

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[Florida Department of Health Orange logo]

Angelina Atley is looking forward to having a health baby, and she credits that to guidance she’s received from the Healthy Start Coalition of Orange County. She found herself unexpectedly signing up for Medicaid so she could pay for prenatal care.

 “I had lost my job as soon as I found out I was pregnant, so I had to find another source,”

 said Atley.

Atley is lucky. Many of Orange county’s black mothers-to-be struggle with pre-natal care, resulting in an infant mortality rate that is higher than the state average. County Health Disparities coordinator Ericka Burroughs-Garardi said the problem is complex. Contributing factors range from living in an unsafe neighborhood that prohibits exercise and healthy eating to being uninsured and unqualified for Medicaid. Burroughs-Garardi said research is also showing that many doctors still harbor stereotyped perceptions of black women.

“And that kind of shines through in their care of women, and they may not even realize it but it does shine through and it kind of makes mothers hesitant to go seek care as often as they need to,” said Burroughs-Garardi.

Black infant mortality for the state of Florida in 2012 was 10.7 percent. In Orange county, it was 11.6 percent. Infant mortality is tied to pre-term births, which according to the Centers for Disease Control- costs the U-S health care system 26-billion dollars a year. 


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