Studies to Address Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality, Cesarean Delivery
Rates, and Medicaid-funded OB-GYN and Pediatric Care
HARTFORD, Conn., April 4, 2011 — Aetna and the Aetna Foundation today announced funding in support of three research projects aimed at driving down rates of infant mortality among African-American newborns, who are more than twice as likely to die in their first year as white infants, and improving health equity for their mothers. Grants totaling $730,000 have been awarded to separate studies by the March of Dimes, the University of California San Francisco and the Center for Health Care Strategies.
“Nearly 20 percent of babies born to African-American women are born prematurely, a condition that is a major factor in the stubbornly high infant mortality rates in the African-American population,” said Anne C. Beal, M.D., M.P.H., president of the Aetna Foundation, and a pediatrician who has been widely published on children’s health issues. “Additionally, African-American women are more likely to have cesarean deliveries, which can have substantial maternal health risks."
“Despite medical advancements and an overall reduction in infant mortality rates, the gap between the survival rates of African-American babies and non-Hispanic white babies has remained persistently the same. Through our support of these studies, we hope to provide data that can deepen our understanding of possible causes of the significant disparities in these health outcomes – including both social factors and clinical care factors -- and encourage the development of effective policies to improve the health of these mothers and their babies,” Beal said.
Grants announced today are:
In addition to grant-making to promote racial and ethnic equity, Aetna recently announced several initiatives to help close the health gap between infants and expectant mothers of various racial and ethnic groups. Aetna is collaborating with the March of Dimes, the Leapfrog Group and others on several infant safety programs to lower the rate of electively scheduled deliveries before 39 weeks and thus reduce babies’ risk of health and development problems.
Racial and ethnic equity in health and health care is one of the Aetna Foundation’s three program areas, along with fighting obesity and promoting more integrated and coordinated patient care. Since 2001, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have awarded more than $30 million in grants to support programs that address racial and ethnic equity in health care, including $1.24 million in 2010.
On March 11, Aetna was honored by the National Business Group on Health for its commitment to racial and ethnic equity in health care.
About the Aetna Foundation
The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed $394 million in grants and sponsorships, including $15.6 million in 2010. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered more than 2.3 million hours since 2003. Our current giving is focused on addressing the rising rate of adult and childhood obesity in the U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic equity in health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For more information, visit www.AetnaFoundation.org.
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