The stillbirth rate of black babies in England and Wales is almost twice that of white babies, with families from mixed and multiple ethnic groups registering the highest increase in stillbirths, figures show.
The death rate of black babies before or during delivery continues to be the highest, with 6.9 stillbirths per 1,000 births registered in 2021, compared with 3.6 per 1,000 white babies, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The numbers, for the US, are different – different measurement techniques and definitions – but the gap is much the same, perhaps a little larger.
OK, this isn’t good, dead babies ain’t good. But why?
We know what the explanation offered is going to be, racism, innit?
We could go a little further and test for poverty. Are poor white babies – or, rather, babies to poor white people – just as likely to die? If so then it’s socioeconomics, innit.
Or, well, is there something genetic there? For example, we know that white women (ie, Hispanic too, of European descent not just modern “white”) find it near impossible to bring a pregnancy to term up on the altiplano of S America. Indios do rather better. Same up in Tibet – those Han Chinese aren’t going to colonise the high plateau over the generations, simply cannot reproduce.
Is there something about the mix of genes and environment that makes that ethnic difference happen in the rich countries?
We’d really like to test whether the same stillbirths rate etc happens in rich and majority black countries. Because that would tell us something about whether it’s relative wealth – the socioeconomic – but we’re rather short of examples of that sort of nation that we could use.
What does also strike as odd is that mixed rate being so high. Hybrid vigour is a real thing.
So, who knows all about this then?