What impact do fathers have on racial health disparities?

National Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Maternal and child health usually focuses on the two named parties: moms and babies. But fathers play an important role in birth outcomes too — and a new study shows that in the black and Hispanic communities, the increased role of the father could help prevent infant mortality.

The infant mortality rate among the non-white population is typically twice as high as the white population. The study concluded that non-Hispanic black women with involved fathers had a twofold increased risk of infant mortality but the risk increased even greater when the lack of father involvement was taken into consideration: infants born to black women with absent fathers had a seven-fold increased risk of infant mortality.

The study concluded that 65–75 percent of excess mortality could be prevented with increased paternal involvement.

The study, from researchers at the University of South Florida, linked birth and death certificates from Florida for the period from 1998-2005. Paternal involvement status was based on the presence or absence of the father’s first or last name on the birth certificate.

In Florida, black and other nonwhite mothers are less likely to be married and include the father on the birth certificate. Statewide, almost 64 percent of black and nonwhite mothers giving birth are single, compared to 41 percent of white mothers. In addition, 23 percent black and nonwhite mothers who gave birth did not include a father on the birth certificate, compared to 9 percent to white mothers — 2.5 times more.

Find out more about the study here. Learn more about the Coalition’s fatherhood initiatives, including Boot Camp for New Dads and Real Man, Real Dad, at our Responsible Fatherhood page.