Researching infant and maternal mortality rates in Black communities in Fresno

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Saturday, July 23, 2022
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First 5, Fresno State and local medical centers are taking part in a nationwide study that could help decrease infant and maternal mortality rates across Black communities.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- First 5, Fresno State and local medical centers are taking part in a nationwide study that could help decrease infant and maternal mortality rates across Black communities.

The EMBRACE study oversees pregnant women across two prenatal care programs and compares their experiences.

In one program, women receive their prenatal care individually. The others receive care in a group setting.

Kristin Carraway is the EMBRACE study Project Manager. She works alongside Central Valley Health institute at Fresno State..

They are dedicated to preventing pre-term birth and infant mortality, especially in underserved communities..

"So myself, I've had family members, friends who've gone through it, and it's hard to see and to see that it's happening to particular populations," Kristin said. "It makes you want to do something about it."

Fresno County's Maternal Child and Adolescent Health report from the last five years shows the mortality rate in Black infants was nearly twice as high as other races.

First 5 Fresno County is working to reduce disparities by providing wraparound group setting prenatal care, known as the Glow! Program.

Lupita Ramirez is the coordinator of the program - which is part of the EMBRACE study.

"We learned even through phase one that a lot of times, our patients aren't receiving respectful care when they come to seek care just in general, not just prenatal care related," she said.

The study also looks at depression and anxiety among pregnant women.

The goal is to survey over 2,600 pregnant women. So far, they have surveyed fewer than 900.

"If we don't have the numbers that we need, we won't be able to provide this data to the policymakers so that we can hopefully get group prenatal care into all clinics with all providers," Kristin said.

The EMBRACE study is in year three out of five.

Researchers hope to see an increase in local doctors and pregnant women participating.