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Study: Race plays a factor in baby care

Daily Planet Staff Report
Monday November 27, 2000

A study conducted last year by the city’s Heath and Human Services Department, Public Health Division has identified a a significant difference in health between newborn African-American and Caucasian babies born in Berkeley during the last three years.  

The study shows that African-American babies have lower birth weights, receive late prenatal care and that their babies suffer more developmental difficulties than their white counterparts.  

According to the study African-American children in Berkeley, are nearly four times as likely to be of low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds) as their white counterparts. They’re also 40 times more likely to die within the first four weeks of life. 

The study also showed that African-American mothers have more predisposing factors such as inadequate social support and late prenatal care. 

In recognition of the study the City Council unanimously adopted a resolution to accept two grants to help educate pregnant African-American women in the hopes of decreasing a host of prenatal and afterbirth complications. 

The city will receive $100,000 to hire two Health Service Coordinator for four months, a health worker specialist for six months and an hourly office assistant for four months. The second grant for $10,000 will be used to address low birth weighs disparity through interviewing Berkeley mothers to determine social and interactive factors to better plan prevention programs. In addition, officials hope to create a “SisterLove” program modeled after the nationally recognized Birthing Right Project, to create a sister/buddy/mentoring system to shepherd mothers through pregnancy, delivery and the first year of life. 

The grants were made possible with the help of the Black Infant Health program, Maternal Child Health Branch, and the Alta Bates Medical Center.