Online Program

Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality within Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 1:42 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Michael Balke, MPH, Maternal and Child Health/Bureau of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Allegheny County Health Department, Wilkinsburg, PA
Michelle Kurta, PhD, MPH, Epidemiology and Bio Statistics, Allegheny County Health Department, Pittsburgh, PA
Ronald Voorhees, MD MPH, Center for Public Health Practice, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
John Kokenda, Bureau of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Allegheny County Health Department, Pittsburgh, PA
LuAnn Brink, PhD, MPH, Bureau of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Allegheny County Health Department, Pittsburgh, PA
Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, Allegheny County Health Department, Pittsburgh, PA
Allegheny County, PA has historically had one of the highest Black infant mortality rates (IMRs) in the United States. For comparison, peer counties were identified using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2009 Community Health Status Indicators Project. Counties were similar with respect to population and demographic measures. Data from the CDC WONDER Linked Birth-Infant Death records, the Pennsylvania Department of Health EpiQMS database, and Allegheny County Health Department vital records were used to calculate and compare IMRs between Allegheny County, other Pennsylvania counties, and peer counties, as well as identify leading causes of infant mortality. Allegheny County had an overall IMR of 7.2 per 1,000 live births between 2007 and 2011. The IMRs for White and Black populations were 4.8 and 16.4, respectively. IMRs varied across geographic regions, with rates generally being highest in and around the city of Pittsburgh. This large racial disparity was consistently observed between 1999 and 2012. Peer counties had an average Black IMR 2.3 times higher than the White IMR between 2008 and 2012, while Allegheny County saw a Black rate 3.4 times higher. Nearly 25% of Allegheny County infant deaths were due to short gestation and low birth weight (White 21.1%, Black 28%), while 12% were due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (White 16.3%, Black 7.5%) between 2007 and 2011. Our results indicate large racial disparities exist for both overall and causes specific infant mortality within Allegheny County and targeted efforts are needed to reduce IMR within the Black population.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Assess infant mortality rates in Allegheny County, PA. Evaluate disparities in infant mortality rates between White and Black populations within Allegheny County. Compare Allegheny County infant mortality rates to those of peer counties and other counties within Pennsylvania. Identify major causes of infant mortality within Allegheny County and determine whether these causes differ according to race.

Keyword(s): Health Disparities/Inequities, Epidemiology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Throughout my career I have conducted epidemiologic studies focusing on projects pertaining to reproductive health as well as maternal and child health. Also, I have actively participated in projects pertaining to infant mortality at the Allegheny County Health Department using population-based data. For this specific project, I aided in reviewing the analyses and oversaw the creation of the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.