Infant mortality is considered one of the most important indicators of the health of a community or even of a nation. Closely monitored by such organizations as the World Bank, it measures the number of infants who die before their first birthday out of every thousand infants born.
The infant mortality rate in Colorado overall is the 5th lowest in the United States. But within that ranking is one of country’s most striking racial disparities.
According to the state health department, 12 black babies die before their first birthday out of every 1,000 born. This rate of infant death is triple that of white babies in Colorado.
The persistently higher rates of infant death in black families cannot be entirely explained by traditional health indicators, including income, education, marital status or age.
For other races, including whites and Hispanics, income correlates directly to infant mortality. For those groups, as a family gains wealth they decrease their chances of losing an infant. But black families at all income levels, at all education levels, maintain a significantly higher rate of infant death.
Rocky Mountain PBS News investigates what could explain this disparity, and what local and national organizations are pursuing to eliminate it.