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Mortality rate higher for Connecticut's Black population, study finds

A doctor uses a hand-held Doppler probe on a pregnant woman to measure the heartbeat of the fetus.
Rogelio V. Solis
A doctor uses a hand-held Doppler probe on a pregnant woman to measure the heartbeat of the fetus.

Disparities in Connecticut’s healthcare system may be responsible for the deaths of more than 14,000 Black residents. It may also be the reason Black infants are three times more likely to die than white infants in the state.

DataHaven compared the mortality rate between Connecticut’s white and Black populations between 2017 and 2022.

They found that Black residents were much more likely to die from preventable illnesses like COVID-19, kidney disease and heart disease.

DataHaven senior research associate Kelly Davila said that is because white residents are more likely to have access to better resources than Black residents.

“There are lots of upstream factors ranging from discrimination in health care settings to poor housing, financial and food insecurity that contribute to, you know, ultimately to higher mortality,” Davila said.

The report also found that infant mortality is three times as high for Black babies than it is for white babies in Connecticut, and the Black fetal mortality rate is twice as high.

Davila pointed to the same issues in the healthcare system.

“There are national studies that we cited in the report that essentially find that a wealthy Black woman will have worse birth outcomes than a poor white woman," Davila said.

"So we know that income is not necessarily the driving force, access to resources is not the driving force, that there's something about race that's playing a role in that,” she added.

However, she said this is an issue that states across the country are facing.

Connecticut may even be one of the “safer” states.

“I think overall, if you look at the average for Connecticut in many measures, the state average appears to be pretty good compared to the United States as a whole,” Davila said. “New England in general tends to be pretty good compared to the U.S. as a whole, with the exception of health care affordability.”

Davila said legislators and health care executives should pay more attention to why efforts to close the health care gap have not been successful.

The report also called for reorienting health care away from a personal basis to focus on a societal approach.

“Ensuring that housing is affordable across different demographic groups, across different areas,” Davila said. “So not just in some cities or in some neighborhoods, but for everyone. Same thing with food insecurity, transportation and security.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.