Disparities in Infant Mortality by Race Among Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Infants

Academic Article


  • Objectives: U.S.-born Hispanic infants have a well-documented health advantage relative to other minority groups. However, little published research has examined racial heterogeneity within the Hispanic population, in relation to health outcomes. The current study aims to explore possible implications of racial identification for the health of U.S. born Hispanic compared to non-Hispanic infants. Methods Data were drawn from 2007 to 2008 NCHS Cohort Linked Live Birth—Infant Death Files, restricted to deliveries of Hispanic black, Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black (NHB) and non-Hispanic white mothers (NHW) (n = 7,901,858). Adjusted odds ratios for first week mortality, neonatal, postneonatal, and overall infant mortality were calculated for each group, using NHW as the reference group. Results: A distinct health gradient was observed in which NHB infants (n = 1,250,222) had the highest risk of first week (aOR 2.29, CI 2.21–2.37), neonatal (aOR 2.23, CI 2.17–2.30), postneonatal (aOR 1.74, CI 1.68–1.81), and infant mortality (aOR 2.05, CI 2.00–2.10) compared to NHW infants (n = 4,578,150). Hispanic black infants (n = 84,377) also experienced higher risk of first-week (aOR 1.28 (1.12–1.47), neonatal (aOR.27, CI 1.13–1.44), postneonatal (aOR 1.34, CI 1.15–1.56), and infant mortality (aOR 1.30, CI 1.18–1.43) compared to both NHW and Hispanic white infants (n = 1,989,109). Conclusions for Practice: Risk of infant mortality varies among Hispanic infants by race, with poorer outcomes experienced by Hispanic black infants. Compared to non-Hispanic infants of the same race, Hispanic black infants experience a smaller health disadvantage and Hispanic white infants have better or similar infant health outcomes. Our findings suggest implications of racial heterogeneity on infant health outcomes, and provide insight into the role of race as a social construct.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rice WS; Goldfarb SS; Brisendine AE; Burrows S; Wingate MS
  • Start Page

  • 1581
  • End Page

  • 1588
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 7