Race and the Survival of Low Birth Weight Infants in New York City

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<p>In New York City, black babies with very low birth weights are more likely to be born in hospitals with high neonatal death rates, or deaths that occur within 28 days of life, according to a <a href="/publications/in-the-literature/2008/mar/black-white-differences-in-very-low-birth-weight-neonatal-mortality-rates-among-new-york-city-hospit
">new study</a> in <em>Pediatrics</em> conducted with support from The Commonwealth Fund, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities. While 21 percent of black very low birth weight (VLBW) babies--babies weighing less than 1,500 grams or 3 pounds, 5 ounces--were born at hospitals with high risk-adjusted neonatal mortality rates, only 11 percent of white VLBW babies were born at those hospitals.<br><br>The study, conducted by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, found that if black mothers having VLBW babies gave birth at the same New York hospitals as white mothers of such babies, death rates for black VLBW babies would be reduced by 6.7 deaths per 1,000 very low birth weight births, lowering the black/white disparity by more than one-third.<br><br>The authors also found that about half of all white VLBW birth took place in hospitals with the lowest mortality, compared with 29 percent of all black VLBW births. The authors estimate that one-quarter of this disparity would be eliminated if the hospitals with the highest neonatal death rates could do as well as the hospitals with an average neonatal mortality rate.</p>