How birthweight and race are a factor in a child's readiness for kindergarten

Nov 27, 2018

How much a child weighs when they are born is a predictor of how ready that child will be for kindergarten, according to Anissa Eddie, process facilitator for KConnect,who uses this data in her work. KConnect focuses on improving access to education for children in Kent County an also to achieve better outcomes. 

“Healthy birth is considered a baby born at five and a half pounds or more, and born below that often means that they were premature, or there was some type of nutritional issue and that is just often then connected to developmental problems or issues with health.”  

In Kent County, approximately nine out of ten babies are born at a healthy weight according to the most recent data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

But the story is very different when it’s about children of color. 

“If you are born white, even just from the very moment that you are born you have a two times greater chance of being born healthy than if you are born black.” 

According to the most recent data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, infant born from African American parents are more than twice as likely to be born at a low birth weight than white babies. But while it may seem that it’s a biological issue, a study by Western Michigan University controlled for African immigrants who had the same birth outcomes as white women; but their daughters had the same birth outcomes as American born black women. 

Even when controlling for income the issue persists says Eddie. 

“Say, you have a black woman who is making good money, highly educated, lives in a lead-free place, you still see the same level of disparity in birth out comes just on race alone when you control for every other thing. That then points to literally the experience of living in the world as a black woman."

Learning how racism alone can impact birthweight outcomes leads us to ask what systems are actively addressing the health outcomes of people of color. 

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News.