Public input sought about reducing African American infant mortality

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Public input sought about reducing African American infant mortality

A special public forum tonight seeks community input on reports that African American babies die at three times the rate of other babies in Fresno County.

The forum at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at Gaston Middle School is presented by First 5 Fresno County and the Fresno County Preterm Birth Collective Impact Initiative, which has obtained funding for a program to help reduce high African American Infant Mortality.

The program includes information about group pregnancy care, a parents’ council and a blue ribbon panel.

The report, “African American Infant Mortality in Fresno County,” is from a $25,000 study funded by First 5 for Fresno State’s Central Valley Health Policy Institute to research and assess the social determinants of infant mortality among black babies, offer recommendations on how to reduce deaths and improve Fresno County’s overall health.

At the forum, Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro, a PTBI steering committee member, will join Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea, First 5 Fresno County Chairman; Emilia Reyes, First 5 Fresno County executive director; and Erica Alexander, March of Dimes program impact leader, as well as other stakeholders.

“We can’t reverse this rate on our own,” Reyes said. “We need the community to provide input about what these programs look like in practical application and how to best involve families. Working together is the only way we can have lasting impact to create better birth outcomes for moms and babies.”

The Preterm Birth Collective Impact Initiative is a collaborative effort to reduce the number of babies born prematurely in Fresno County coordinated through the Central California Center for Health and Human Services at Fresno State. It’s part of the larger $100 million, 10-year Preterm Birth Initiative led by the University of California, San Francisco, and funded by Lynne and Marc Benioff and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

RSVPs for the free, public forum may be made at 559.558.4985. Free refreshments and childcare will be available.

For a copy of the CVPHI study, African American Infant Mortality in Fresno County.

For more information about the study, contact Dr. Lauren Lessard at 559.228.2165 or

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