Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Infant Mortality: the Persistent Challenge

The graph on the following page presents the infant mortality rates of African American, Asian, Caucasian and Hispanic infants from 1980 to 2005. It is clear from this illustration that there are significant and persistent disparities among these groups. The rate among Asians, for example, is better than the Healthy People Objective; the rates among Whites and Hispanics are close to the national goal, but the rate among African Americans is at an unacceptably high level of 15.1 per 1,000 live births.

As can be seen in Table 4, although the infant mortality rate among Puerto Ricans has remained relatively stable since 1990, the decreasing rate among non-Hispanic Whites has led to an increasing disparity between Whites and Puerto Ricans that began in 1996 and continues to worsen. It should be noted that the Puerto Rican infant mortality rate is based on a relatively small number of events, and that the rate, therefore, varies widely from year to year. However, an examination of these data aggregated over the past decade shows a clear indication of significant and unacceptable disparity when compared with non-Hispanic Whites.

Table 5 presents the ratio of African American to Caucasian infant mortality rates, regardless of Hispanic descent, over the same period. While the state has made steady progress in the reduction of infant mortality, the racial disparity between African American and Caucasian infants has not appreciably improved.

The Department has set the reduction of this racial disparity in health status one of the top priorities of its Division of Community Health and Prevention. The Department's targeted infant mortality reduction initiatives -- CHSI, TIPCM and Closing the Gap -- are promising first steps toward addressing this unacceptable loss of life. The Department will continue to work with partners at the federal, state and community level to identify, develop and implement new strategies to address this pressing health problem.

Tabular version of Chart "Infant Mortality By Race and Ethnicity - Illinois 1980 - 2005" per 1,000 Live Births


Year

ILLINOIS
White
NonHisp
Black
NonHisp
Asian
NonHisp

Hispanic
1980 14.7 12.1 26.3 10.0 7.3
1981 13.9 11.6 24.5 5.1 7.7
1982 13.6 11.4 24.6 6.6 5.8
1983 12.3 10.0 23.2 6.3 5.9
1984 12.0 9.7 22.1 4.1 6.8
1985 11.6 9.4 21.4 5.8 6.9
1986 12.0 9.6 22.3 6.9 6.8
1987 11.6 9.6 20.7 4.9 6.2
1988 11.2 9.1 20.9 4.9 5.6
1989 11.7 8.7 22.0 4.4 10.2
1990 10.7 7.4 22.1 4.2 8.8
1991 10.7 7.7 21.1 2.6 8.6
1992 10.0 7.4 19.5 4.0 7.3
1993 9.6 7.2 18.8 3.9 6.9
1994 9.0 6.7 17.9 3.3 7.0
1995 9.3 7.4 18.2 3.3 6.5
1996 8.4 6.3 17.5 2.7 6.4
1997 8.2 6.1 16.5 3.8 6.9
1998 8.2 6.3 16.8 3.3 6.5
1999 8.3 6.0 17.3 5.0 7.0
2000 8.3 6.2 16.3 5.1 7.4
2001 7.5 6.1 14.7 4.7 5.6
2002 7.2 5.4 15.6 4.2 5.8
2003 7.6 6.1 15.6 2.5 6.2
2004 7.2 5.8 15.1 3.3 5.7
2005 7.2 5.8 15.1 3.3 5.7

Table 4 Infant Mortality Rate Ratios for Select Racial and Ethnic Groups 1980 - 2005

Non-Hispanic Black to
Non-Hispanic White
Mexican to
Non-Hispanic White
Puerto Rican to
Non-Hispanic White
1980 2.2 0.6 0.6
1985 2.3 0.8 0.6
1990 3.0 1.1 1.0
1995 2.5 0.9 1.0
2000 2.6 1.2 1.7
2005 2.6 0.9 1.6

Table 5 Ratio of African American and Caucasian Infant Mortality Illinois: 1980 - 2005


Year
Ratio African American
to Caucasian
1980 2.1:1
1981 2.1:1
1982 2.2:1
1983 2.3:1
1984 2.3:1
1985 2.3:1
1986 2.3:1
1987 2.2:1
1988 2.3:1
1989 2.5:1
1990 2.9:1
1991 2.7:1
1992 2.6:1
1993 2.7:1
1994 2.7:1
1995 2.5:1
1996 2.8:1
1997 2.7:1
1998 2.7:1
1999 2.8:1
2000 2.5:1
2001 2.5:1
2002 2.8:1
2003 2.6:1
2004 2.5:1
2005 2.7:1