When the Bough Breaks is a movie that is part of the series Unnatural Causes which was produced for PBS by California Newsreel. I understand the series is going to be presented again on PBS. It originally aired in 2008. For better or worse this series is part of the policy discussion in health care.
I was at a training yesterday, in which the movie was shown and it has me thinking. Perhaps my previous blog "Racket Sports Make You Smart" was a sarcastic reaction to this movie.
The movie presents data about low birth weight babies. The statistics show that African American mothers have twice the chance of having a low-birth weight baby as a whit mother. It indicates the researchers thought this must have been due to difference in socioeconomic class. However when they ruled this out, the gap became wider rather than narrower. The movie presented the story of an African American mother, lawyer and successful in terms of things of the world. However her baby was born just over two pounds if I remember, and was another statistic in this debate. It pointed out that upper economic classed African American women have babies with lower birth weight than the babies of White women.
They decided this must be something in their genetic code. However when they looked at recent immigrants from Africa, their babies had the same weight on average as white babies. However after being in the United States for a generation, then their statistics reflected the African American population at large. Consequently they concluded it wasn't genetic factors.
They concluded that the reason for the low-birth weight among babies born to African American woman had to be racism. That racism, over a life time effects the Black women in such away as to make affect the health of their babies.
The movie points out the infant mortality in the United States is not much to be happy about. It seems the United States ranks 34 overall in the world. Even taking away the African American babies we still rank around 23. So the health and risk of low-weight babies is prevalent amongst our entire population, and more prevalent among the African American population.
In our own family, our little Tony was born with low-birth weight. He was in the hospital for 10 days. In his case his birth mother was very young. I also find that drugs may have something to do with low-birth weight. It seems doing foster care, most or all of our babies have been exposed to drugs. I wonder if age of the mother and drugs could be factors? Another factor could be multiple births.
During the past year there have been four low-weight babies born among my extended family. The wife of my nephew had triplets, all of low-birth weight. They are all doing fine now. My niece also had a baby who was born too soon. Unfortunately she lost her baby when he got an infection in the hospital.
Low-birth weight is not confined to babies of African American women. I wonder if this issues is more complex than just blaming it on racism. Are their other factors at play with regards to the make up of the African American family that could play a factor as well?