Report on Mortality Rates Among African American and Rural Infants to Inform Maryland Policymakers
School of Public Health faculty, staff and students wrote a report analyzing risk factors for infant mortality in Maryland for the Maryland General Assembly, as part of a contract with the Maryland Health Commission.
The 17-member team from the Department of Family Science and the Maryland Center for Health Equity was given the task to determine why infant mortality rates in Maryland are highest for African American and rural infants, and to make recommendations to reduce them.
The team completed their literature review, workgroups and interviews, and submitted the written report to the Senate Finance Committee and House Health and Government Operation Committee of the Maryland General Assembly on Friday, November 1, only having a short six months to complete it.
The contract comes after the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill in April 2018 mandating that the Maryland Health Care Commission produce the study—the first state analysis of infant mortality since 2011. Significant changes have occurred in the health care environment in Maryland since then, but as of 2017, no progress had been made in reducing Black infant mortality rates—and the rural infant mortality rate appeared to be worsening.
“The big picture here is that disparities in infant mortalities have been persistent over time,” said Professor Sandra Quinn, chair of the Department of Family Science and the lead of the study.
Maryland’s infant mortality rate is higher than the national average, the report states, in part, because people of color carry a disproportionate burden of infant mortality and the State has a higher proportion of Black residents than the national average.
The report outlined several recommendations to reduce the disparities, including improving coordinated care efforts, expanding and enhancing access to care and creating a permanent council to focus on the disparities in infant mortality and maternal mortality.
But the central recommendation was for the Maryland General Assembly to establish a permanent council to focus on both infant mortality and maternal mortality.
“We need monitoring. We need a laser beam focus on this,” Quinn said. “When you have attention on programs and adequate resources, then we can see some sustained progress.”
The study was produced by Sandra Crouse Quinn, Elaine Anderson, Marian Moser Jones, Edmond Shenassa, Marie Thoma, Amelia Jamison, Devlon Jackson, Dane De Silva, Jessica Gleason, Deborah Quint Shelef, Anne-Olive Nono, Afua Nyame-Mireku, Arrey-takor Ayuk-Arrey, Nava Katz, Marie Ngobo Ekamby, Dushanka Kleinman and Amy Lewin.