Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health, today launched California’s Black Infant Health Week.
“Black Infant Health Week focuses our attention on the increased health risks that African American babies face as they begin life and on ways we can better support and equip African American mothers to give their children a better chance at a healthy future,” Horton said.
Major advances in medical research and technology, along with increased access to prenatal and newborn medical care, have reduced infant deaths in California. Despite these achievements, African American babies in California are twice as likely to die before their first birthday in comparison to babies of other racial groups.
The primary causes for African American infant mortality and morbidity are premature birth and low birth weight. Other causes of infant death include respiratory distress, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and birth defects.
To promote the health and well-being of African American women and their babies, Governor Schwarzenegger has proclaimed February 17-23, 2008 as Black Infant Health Week.
“There is still hard work to be done to ensure the health of all mothers and newborns,” Governor Schwarzenegger said. “During Black Infant Health Week, we renew our commitment to improving the health of African-American babies and their mothers, and I encourage all Californians to join me in meeting this goal.”
CDPH encourages women of childbearing age to:
• Get early and regular prenatal and pediatric medical care;
• Eat a healthy food during pregnancy and after;
• Get plenty of exercise during pregnancy;
• Take folic acid before and during pregnancy;
• Eliminate alcohol, tobacco and other drugs;
• Breastfeed for the baby's first year;
• Use family planning techniques to space pregnancies apart;
• Put babies to sleep on their backs to prevent sudden infant death syndrome.
Further information about Black Infant Health Week, including the Governor’s Proclamation, is available at www.cdph.ca.gov