Infant mortality in Minn. too high

Minnesota has one of the lowest overall infant mortality rates nationwide. But as with many other issues, the state has wide racial and ethnic disparities within its infant mortalities.
 
A report from the Minnesota Department of Health found that babies born to American-Indian and African-American mothers have mortality rates more than twice as high as those born to white mothers.
 
The gap is caused primarily by the wider problem of socioeconomic disparities. Less access to health care, for example, may mean that minority mothers are more likely to have pre-existing health conditions during pregnancy and receive less maternal care. Working in lower-wage jobs also translates into a lower chance of receiving paid pregnancy or maternal leave, even though research has shown that 10 weeks of paid maternal leave may reduce infant mortality by as much as 10
percent. 
 
The health department has initiated a plan to reduce infant mortality rates across all groups, with a particular focus on reducing racial and ethnic gaps. The report noted that health equity issues often result from “structural racism and other discriminatory causes.” Subsequently, its recommendations include improving health equity, providing culturally appropriate health care to more women and monitoring infant mortality statewide. 
 
Minnesota’s large gap in infant mortality rates and the structural racism they’re rooted in are unacceptable. With this new plan, we hope to see the health department and its affiliates begin to make real improvements in the state’s infant mortality rates for all families.