The focus of the study by Rawlings and Weir1 in this issue of AJDC is straightforward: do poverty and lack of access to health care account for a mortality rate among black infants that is twice that for white infants in the United States? To examine this question, Rawlings and Weir compare race- and rank-specific infant mortality rates for military dependents at an Army Medical Center in Washington.
They conclude that neither rank (a proxy for income differences) nor race significantly influenced infant mortality rates in the context of ready access to health care. This conclusion is based on the statistically comparable rates of infant mortality among white and black military dependents. Furthermore, the mortality rate among black infants studied was significantly lower than the national average for black infants (11.1 per 1000 vs 17.9 per 1000).
These findings are a cause for cautious optimism. This study demonstrates that in