FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The 1619 Project and Action News are partnering to look at disparities impacting minority communities as part of the Our America series.
In the Valley, community leaders are using the power of data to help bridge the gap of equity in healthcare.
According to California's Department of Public Health, Black women are four to six times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes.
The latest infant mortality data in Fresno County shows the infant mortality rate of Black babies is significantly higher than any other race.
"Back in 2015 there was an 86% increase in African American infant mortality and here at first five we really wanted to know what was the cause of this alarming increase," explained Lupita Ramirez, a coordinator with the Glow Prenatal Care Program Coordinator.
The discovery prompted a movement.
First Five in Fresno California, along with Fresno State and the University of California, San Francisco launched the EMBRACE Study.
The study looks at the differences and impacts of group prenatal care versus individual care on birth outcomes.
It also examined maternal mental health and preterm birth as well as gestational age.
Kristin Carraway oversees the EMBRACE Study.
"Preterm birth has a lot of impact on families and individuals and society as a whole. Because there are a number of things that come with being born early, there might be a number of health issues, mental health issues," said Carraway.
Elizabeth Pratt is a first-time mom and a study participant.
She is part of the group prenatal care program called Glow.
Pratt says her pregnancy wasn't easy.
"I was really depressed a lot but by going to them I can express that," said Pratt.
Pratt describes the glow group as a positive space and a much-needed support system.
Especially when her two-month-old baby girl, Ella Rose, was born early at 34 weeks.
"I was continually going up to the hospital to see her in the NICU so I couldn't rest. I'm like I gotta make sure she's good. I gotta watch and see what they are doing, knowing that they took care of me but I still wanna watch," Pratt said.
According to California's public health department, "racism, and economic stressors, play a major role in poor birth outcomes for Black women."
The Embrace study aims to help pinpoint and understand the health factors associated with these complications.
They hope to one day change legislation to help get better support for pregnant women.
"Support is everything in my mind and my opinion and I really feel like the glow program captures that essence and really focuses on the whole well-being of that person experiencing pregnancy," said Ramirez.
"Our America" and "The 1619 Project" are streaming on Hulu, which is also owned by ABC30's parent company, Disney.
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