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San Joaquin County Public Health Services has announced the “Rally Around Our Sisters” countywide campaign that brings awareness to the high rates of Black infants and mothers who die due to pregnancy and delivery complications.

The campaign, a pregnancy and parenting support model for Black and African American women in San Joaquin County, is led by the Perinatal Equity Initiative, a state program that aims in part to reduce the mortality of Black infants. Other community organizations are participating in the campaign with PEI and the mission of all of them is to raise awareness of health-related inequalities.

“According to recent data for San Joaquin County, an average of 54 percent of pregnant and parenting Black and African American mothers are single, separated, widowed, or divorced compared to an average of nearly 16 percent of pregnant or parenting white mothers,” Reanna Wyatt, PEI coordinator, said.

“There’s nothing more life-changing than the birth of a baby. But Black and African American women and infants are dying at a much higher rate than other racial groups. Many of these deaths are preventable and it has to stop.”

Dr. Maggie Park, San Joaquin County interim public health officer

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black and African American infants die at two times the rate of white infants and three times the rate of Asian infants.

The leading cause of infant mortality among this community is preterm birth, when a child is born before the 37-week mark of pregnancy. In California the maternal mortality rate for these infants is nearly three times higher than those of white women.

San Joaquin County interim Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park said, “There’s nothing more life-changing than the birth of a baby. But Black and African American women and infants are dying at a much higher rate than other racial groups. Many of these deaths are preventable and it has to stop.”

Rally Around Our Sisters also provides support from the Black Infant Health Program, which provides social support, case management services, and assistance with referrals for Black and African American pregnant and parenting women.

More information about the campaign and program can be found online or by calling 209-468-3004.