CHVPIfirst5African-American infants in Fresno County are dying at higher rates within their first year of life than white infants, due to premature birth, low birth weight or birth defects. In California alone, the African-American mortality rate is 10.6 per 1,000 live births, according to the latest numbers in 2013.

Photo Credit: Central Valley Health policy Institute
Read more about the rates HERE.

These alarming statistics will be the focus of a community meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, August 11, at Gaston Middle School in west Fresno (1100 Church Ave.), hosted by First 5 Fresno County and the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at Fresno State.

The high rates of African-American infant deaths prompted First 5 Fresno County to take action, granting researchers at the institute $25,000 to conduct a six-month study to determine what factors contribute to infant mortality and pre-term births, and recommendations on how to reduce death rates in the future.

“This study may serve as a call to action for many in Fresno,” said Lauren Lessard, research scientist at the institute. “We show that high rates of infant mortality among African-Americans in Fresno can be linked to the stress associated with limited life opportunities and inadequate health and human services. Our project has yielded a number of actionable recommendations to address these conditions, and we are excited by the leadership from First 5 Fresno County in stimulating a community-wide conversation on how to implement solutions.”

You can learn more about the key findings of this study at tonight’s community meeting or for more information, contact Karen Rangel at or 559.558.4918.