The Philadelphia Inquirer: Meet Montco Mamas, a New Initiative Fighting the Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality
The program is working to improve the health and well-being of Montgomery County-based Black pregnant women, infants, and their families.Infant mortality is highest among babies born to Black mothers. Montco Mamas wants to make a difference in this disparity.
Though U.S. infant mortality rates have been dropping nationally over the past 10 years — and even reached a historic all-time low in 2018 — major racial disparities continue to exist regarding birth outcomes. Nationally, infants born to non-Hispanic Black mothers are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthday than those born to non-Hispanic white mothers. In Pennsylvania, the infant mortality rate is even higher than the national average for Black babies, at 11.6 per 1,000 live births in 2020.
This significant neonatal inequity is what prompted a recent collaboration between the Montgomery County Maternal and Early Childhood Consortium and Maternity Care Coalition. Their initiative, called Montco Mamas, aims to improve the health and well-being of Montgomery County-based Black pregnant women, infants, and their families through data-driven community action plans.
What is one thing you want people to know about the work Montco Mamas is doing, or about racial health disparities in general?
Birth outcomes are not the mother’s fault. They are the direct result of inequitable social determinants of health, including physical environment, education, income, and quality of health services. When racist practices and policies exist within those areas, the result is going to be disparity. Our PPOR shows that racial health disparities are caused by racism and are causing Black babies to die. So many Black women I know, including myself, have had issues with their pregnancies. This is an issue that we need to look at differently and critically in order to improve the birth outcomes and quality of life for our community members.