California Black Infant Health Program
Did you know that —
- Approximately one in seven African American babies in California is born too early or too small?
- African American babies are more than twice as likely as White babies to die before their first birthdays?
- African American women are much more likely than White women to die of pregnancy-related complications?
The reasons for these health disparities are complex and cannot be fully explained by differences in underlying medical conditions or behaviors like smoking. In fact, many experts believe that aspects of social disadvantage—including poverty, lack of social support, and racial discrimination—are important contributors to the increased risks of poor maternal and infant outcomes among African Americans. Current scientific understanding suggests that experiencing these kinds of stressful conditions—not only during pregnancy, but throughout life—can have dramatic adverse effects on a woman’s own health and that of her baby.
The California Black Infant Health (BIH) Program aims to improve health among African American mothers and babies and to reduce the Black: White disparities by empowering pregnant and mothering African American women to make healthy choices for themselves, their families, and their communities.
Within a culturally affirming environment and honoring the unique history of African American women, the BIH Program uses a group-based approach with complementary client-centered case management to help women develop life skills, learn strategies for reducing stress, and build social support. BIH clients participate in weekly group sessions (10 prenatal and 10 postpartum) designed to help them access their own strengths and set health-promoting goals for themselves and their babies. In addition to helping clients reinforce the skills and knowledge they develop in the group sessions, one-on-one case management ensures that clients are connected with the appropriate community and social services to meet their needs. Each woman culminates her participation in the program by developing her own individual Life Plan to guide her continued progress after BIH.
The BIH Program is located in 15 local health jurisdictions where more than three quarters of African-American live births occur in California. For more information about local BIH sites, please see the BIH Directory.