Mortality disparities widening among racial groups, study finds

Gabrielle Masson - Print  | 

In the last decade, the United States has halted or reversed progress on reducing racial/ethnic disparities in mortality rates for most age groups, according to a study published Sept. 24 in American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 

Categorizing data by race/ethnicity and age, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison analyzed 2007-16 mortality data from the CDC's Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research database. 

Researchers found that racial/ethnic mortality disparities are widening for infants and individuals ages 65-74. The variance in disparities was much smaller for ages 25-54. In 2016, mortality rates for black, Alaska Indian and Native American groups were higher than those of whites in every age group. The mortality rate for black infants and children was more than twice that of white infants and children.

Researchers suggest that the recent attention on rising mortality rates for the nation's middle-aged white population may be overshadowing the health inequalities affecting other racial/ethinic age groups. 

"Mortality trends among whites are important and influential to the overall mortality rate and racial/ethnic disparities, but they are not the whole story, especially for younger age groups," lead study author Keith Gennuso, PhD, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, said in a news release. "This study reinforces a strong body of prior research describing pervasive racial/ethnic disparities in mortality in the US."

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