Health gains for African Americans and Latinos lag far behind whites
Lucero Barrios is Latina and a new mother – circumstances that place her squarely in a group of people affected by a shocking reality in Colorado: A Hispanic baby born in this state is 63 percent more likely than a white baby to die in the first year of life.
And Latinos aren’t alone – the disparity is even more stark for Colorado’s African Americans, who experience an infant mortality rate three times that of Caucasians.
The infant mortality gap is just one measurement by which the state’s largest groups of ethnic and racial minorities trail whites, and it is an anomaly unto itself. Colorado’s infant mortality rate is lower than the national average for whites and significantly higher than the national average for Latinos and blacks. And an I – News examination of more than a decade of health data found those disparities are widening.
Barrios’ daughter, Monserrat, is healthy – a big brown–eyed baby – whose favorite book features animals that make sounds when her mother pushes a button on the page.
“It was something I never thought would happen to me at a young age,” Barrios said of becoming a mother at age 20.
When it did, she took steps that may have prevented her from becoming a statistic. She made an appointment at Clinica Family Health Services, which serves predominantly the working poor. She showed up for pre – natal examinations with Dr. Carolyn Chen. She didn’t drink or use drugs. And after her baby was born, she brought Monserrat to the Clinica office in Westminster for scheduled checkups.
Lucero Barrios, right, and her daughter, Monserrat, at their Adams County home. (Joe Mahoney/The I-News Network)
A deeper examination of the numbers shows that the infant mortality rate for Hispanics has climbed in recent years at the same time that it was steadily falling for whites, according to data compiled by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Show more text →
Kevin Vaughan, senior reporter at the I-News Network, is an award-winning journalist and author. Over his 25-year career he has written for the Fort Morgan Times, the Fort Collins Coloradoan, the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post and has covered some of the state’s biggest stories. Among them have been the tragedy at Columbine High School, Colorado’s horrific wildfire season of 2002, the Colorado Rockies’ 2007 World Series run, and the fight by Tim Masters to overturn his conviction in the murder of Peggy Hettrick.
He is a 1986 graduate of Metropolitan State College, and his work has been honored numerous times. His 2007 Rocky Mountain News series, “The Crossing,” which examined the lifelong reverberations of Colorado’s worst traffic accident, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing. He is the co-author (with Jim Davidson) of the best-seller “The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier.”