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Illinois' Child Death Rates Show Big Racial Gaps

Voices for Illinois Children

Black kids in Illinois are far more likely to die than their white and Hispanic counterparts, due to issues ranging from maternal stress to disease and homicide. 

The gap in death rates for black children as opposed to other races is the third-largest in the nation, while the gap in the teen death rate is the fourth-highest.

The gap still exists for infants, but is a little narrower than it had been in the past.

Anna Rowan is project manager for Voices for Illinois Children, an advocacy group that analyzed information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The death rate for black children is more than double the rate for Hispanics and whites, and really when you look at our gap in comparison to the gap in other states, we’re in the top ten for the size of every age group.”

Rowan says the reasons for the deaths tend to be different depending on age, but adds she believes racism plays a role in all age groups.

“We know from recent research that with the black infant mortality rate in particular maternal stress due to racism, poverty has a negative effect on birth outcomes.”

Rowan says the situation with infant death rates has seen some improvement because of growing focus in recent years on maternal health and access to health insurance. The overall average child death in Illinois is at the national average.

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