New Jersey’s overall infant mortality rate is lower than the national rate (4.7 per 1,000 live births versus 5.9 in 2015). But there’s a big disparity between the results for white and black infants in the Garden State (3.0 per 1,000 births for white infants compared to 9.7 for black infants). To improve health outcomes for black infants and mothers, several state agencies under the aegis of the Department of Health have just awarded grants of $4.3 million as part of a “Healthy Women, Healthy Families” initiative. The money is going to six community-based organizations across the state.
In addition, the Department of Health is giving $450,000 for a doula pilot program in municipalities with a high mortality rate among black infants. (Doulas provide patient education, labor support, and home visits. Studies show their involvement in maternity care reduces the incidence of cesarean births, increases the likelihood of a shorter labor, and can lead to a more positive childbirth experience.)