The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued the CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report — United States, 2011, which is the first in a series of regular reports that focus on selected topics that are important to CDC’s efforts to eliminate disparities.
I think the CDC's key findings on preterm birth disparities are worth bringing to your attention, so I am sharing the findings here. The text below comes from the CDC's Health Disparities in Preterm Births Factsheet (pdf)
Released as an MMWR Supplement, the report contains 22 topical essays that address disparities in health-care access, exposure to environmental hazards, mortality, morbidity, behavioral risk factors, and social determinants of selected health problems at the national level. The report provides an analysis of the recent trends and ongoing variations in health disparities and inequalities in selected social and health indicators. The data highlight the considerable and persistent gaps between the healthiest people and the least healthy. By documenting these gaps, CDC hopes to spur further action and attention to these issues at the federal, state and local levels.
Key Findings in Preterm Births Disparities
• Approximately one of every five infants born to non-Hispanic black mothers in 2007 was born preterm, compared with one of every eight to nine infants born to non-Hispanic white and Hispanic women.
• The 2007 preterm birth rate for non-Hispanic black infants was 59% higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white infants and 49% higher than the rate for Hispanic infants.
What Can Be Done
Understanding of the causes for these wide disparities in preterm risk is limited. Reported causes include differences in socioeconomic status, prenatal care, maternal risk behaviors, infection, nutrition, stress, and genetics. Multidisciplinary research into the factors influencing preterm birth is needed for developing effective intervention strategies.
CDC will accelerate its efforts to eliminate health disparities with a focus on surveillance, analysis, and reporting of disparities and the identification and application of evidence-based strategies to achieve health equity.
CDC and its partners can use the findings in this periodic report to raise awareness and understanding of groups that experience the greatest health disparities. The findings also can help motivate increased efforts to intervene at the state, tribal, and local levels to address health disparities and inequalities.
Further information on the Health Disparities Report can be found here.