High rates of infant mortality and maternal deaths from prenatal complications, particularly for black children and mothers, were among the reasons the governor’s administration made improving healthcare access and outcomes for residents a focus of the Atlantic City transition.
New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy, while visiting three church congregations in Atlantic City and Pleasantville on Sunday morning, called the state’s mortality statistics for African American women and babies “dire,” and implored the community to help spread awareness about available help.
Murphy announced that Atlantic City will host Nurture NJ’s free Family Festival in September where parents and guardians can receive information on prenatal care and doulas, blood pressure and sugar screenings, eye exams, pediatric services, mental health and addiction services, food and housing assistance programs, energy assistance programs and child care centers from state, county and local providers.
The Atlantic City Family Festival will take place at the Pennsylvania Avenue School from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7.
Murphy said black mothers were five times as likely to die due to pregnancy complications than a white woman, and African American infants were three times more likely to die in their first year of life than a white baby.
“This is the widest racial disparity in the nation, and it’s totally unacceptable,” she said. “While we have a long road ahead in dismantling the systemic racism that has led to this abhorrent discrepancy, I am determined to continue to work with all of you to close this gap and protect out mothers and babies.”
According to Nurture NJ, the state’s maternal mortality rates are among the worst in the nation. New Jersey ranks 45th in maternal deaths, according to the United Health Foundation, and 37 women die, on average, for every 100,000 live births in the state, compared to 20 nationally.
Nurture NJ is Murphy’s statewide awareness campaign focused on infant and maternal health care. Nurture NJ has held other Family Festivals in Newark, Paterson, Camden and Trenton.