Report Looks at Infant Mortality in Utah by Race, Geography

(KCPW News) A new study finds certain racial groups and certain areas of the state are more prone to high infant mortality rates. Utah Department of Health Program Specialist April Young Bennett says the report pinpoints who has high infant mortality rates and where they are occurring.

“We found that our Utah blacks and African Americans and our Utah Pacific Islanders have high infant mortality rates,” says Bennett. “But another thing that we looked into was if there are some places in Utah that have higher infant mortality rates as well. There were certain small areas including Sevier, Piute and Wayne counties, Wasatch County, and Box Elder County that actually had infant mortality rates about twice as high as the statewide population.”

The Office of Health Disparities Reduction, which conducted the study, spoke with Pacific Islanders, who said many in their community aren’t aware of things like folic acid consumption and when to get prenatal care. And African Americans said they need better access to birth control and women’s health care before pregnancy.

Meanwhile, the higher infant mortality rates in rural communities occurred among white Utahns.

“One thing that we are thinking is that it might be related to access to primary care,” Bennett says. “We do know that we do have a big problem here in Utah with access to primary care in rural areas and so we’re suspecting that might be related to it.”

The new study is one of the first done by the Office of Health Disparities Reduction that analyzes disparities by geography.