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New Movie: Reducing Infant Mortality and Improving the Health of Babies

Screenshot from trailer of Reducing Infant Mortality


Reducing Infant Mortality, a free online film, will be released this summer as a tool for drawing attention to infant mortality and health issues as national health care policy is debated on Capitol Hill.

According to the film’s web site, the U.S. health care system is failing babies and families before, during and after birth as evidenced by the country’s worldwide infant mortality ranking of 42nd, with more than double the infant deaths compared to the top 10 countries of the world.

The filmmakers report that they are seizing the opportunity to make a 10-12 minute video to point out the flaws in the way we care for babies and families and to identify the keys to improved care at a time when the U.S. government is working to reform health care.

Of particular concern to the creators of Reducing Infant Mortality is the “astronomically high” African American infant mortality rate of 16 deaths per 1,000, which is similar to countries such as Malaysia and the West Bank. Their hope is for legislators and public policy makers to rethink the current health care system and incorporate the midwifery model of care to save taxpayers millions of dollars each year and promote a new measure of success for the infant’s first year of life—thriving, not just surviving.

The extensive list of experts interviewed for the film includes Michel Odent, Thomas Verny, Marshall Klaus, Phyllis Klaus, Marsdsen Wagner, David Chamberlain, Karen Strange, Robbie Davis-Floyd, Jennie Joseph, Sarah Buckley, Bruce Smith, Yeshi Neumann, Paul Fleiss, Maria Iorillo, Stuart Fischbein, Debra Bonaro-Pascali and Judith Prager.

The Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, a 501 (c) (3) non profit organization, is the fiscal sponsor of the Reducing Infant Mortality film project. Tax deductible donations to support the film can be made by check or electronically via the website. The film’s creators are looking for networking partners to help promote the film and provide a contact e-mail on the site’s home page for those interested in helping.


Watch the film’s trailer


Digg the film’s site


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Reader Comments (4)

I'm looking forward to seeing this movie! The high rates of infant and maternal mortality in the African-American community are unforgivable. A not-insignificant contribution to the infant mortality disparity is due to higher rates of preterm birth. Many people misunderstand this disparity between blacks and whites and assume it's due to socioeconomic status (SES) - that black women are more likely to be poor than white women, and race in this case is just a proxy for class. In fact, the gap between white and black outcomes grows as you go higher up the economic ladder. Additionally, Hispanic women share many of the same SES characteristics as black women but have outcomes similar to whites (this is sometimes called the "Hispanic paradox").

There are a lot of theories about the exact mechanisms of why this happens, but enduring a lifetime of racism is definitely at the top of the pile. This may be why programs like Centering Pregnancy that add a social support component to prenatal care have been successful in reducing preterm birth in high-risk populations. I really hope the film draws in discussion of alternative approaches to prenatal (and preconception) care.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

"enduring a lifetime of racism is definitely at the top of the pile"

You've read Michael Lu's work, haven't you? He is amazing.

June 27, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

I haven't, actually, but now that I've looked him up I will I have read some of Vijaya Hogan's work. I also heard Tyan Parker-Dominguez speak recently (who also came from UCLA) and she was amazing. She just has all the facts at her fingertips and some really interesting ideas about children's vicarious experiences of racism via their parents, and the socialization of hyperarousal from a young age. She's working on preconception interventions through African-American churches. So cool!

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Here's a good description of the research on allostatic load and allostatis in case anyone wants to know what we're talking about.

June 30, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill
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