Arline Geronimus

Infant mortality in Michigan is well above the national average, and a baby born to a Black mother in the state is three times more likely to die before its first birthday than a white baby. In fact, Michigan’s mortality rate for African-American babies puts it behind all advanced nations, in line, instead, with countries like Malaysia and Syria, according to a May 14 report on Michigan Radio’s Stateside with Cynthia Canty. According to ISR researcher Arline Geronimus, African-American women are more likely to develop conditions that affect pregnancy, such as high blood pressure or hypertension, and that puts their babies at greater risk. A key reason that Black women develop these conditions at higher rates is the degree of stress they routinely encounter, Geronimus said. “If you think about hypertension as a stress-related disease, you can begin to understand why groups who have less and are subject to marginalization would have more exposure to and need to cope actively with stressors.”