This paper examines absolute change in infant mortality from 5 leading causes of death for whites and blacks over a 20 year period. Change in infant mortality varies by cause, race, and birth weight. Absolute decline in mortality from respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the overall study population has been more rapid for black infants during the period after specific technological innovations were approved and behavioral practices were recommended for these conditions. For low birth weight infants, blacks experienced greater decline in mortality from SIDS and whites experienced greater decline in RDS mortality. Despite remarkable declines in mortality from these causes, relative racial disparities have increased over this time period. For the overall study population, blacks and whites experienced similar rates of mortality decline from congenital anomalies. Mortality decline from this cause among low birth weight infants occurred at a faster pace for whites. Mortality from causes for which no specific innovations were developed increased for blacks but remained relatively constant for whites. An analysis of absolute change complements the relative disparities approach by revealing the dynamics of change, thus providing a more complete understanding of changing racial disparities in infant mortality.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 18, 2009
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