First 5 Fresno County and Fresno State hosted a community meeting on Tuesday at Rutherford B. Gaston Middle School in southwest Fresno to discuss the abnormally high rate of infant death in the local African American community.
The host agencies discussed the findings of a recent study by Fresno State, which found that black babies are three times more likely to die in their first year of life than white and Hispanic infants. The meeting was meant to bring this issue home in southwest Fresno, where a large amount of the city’s black families live.
Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro and Fresno County Supervisor and First 5 Chairman Henry R. Perea were among the speakers. Fresno City Councilmember Esmerelda Soria was in attendence.
The event also covered what’s being done to combat the mortality rates, including an increase in funding for the Black Infant Health Program.
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Chadrea Williams and her husband Steven said they live just around the corner from the middle school. Chadrea, who worked as a nurse for 10 years, said she had no idea that the mortality rates were so high or that special help existed for black mothers.
“It’s imperative that people learn about this,” she said. “I’ve had five miscarriages in my life. I wish I would have known.”