Pregnant women in the U.S. are incredibly fortunate to live in a nation where the vast majority bring healthy babies into the world and live to care for and comfort their babies for many years to come. But that fortune is not spread equally across the boards in terms of race.

According to a recent story on NPR's "All Things Considered," there is a huge disparity in birth outcomes based on race. And the differences are black and white. Black women have higher rates of preterm delivery — they are 60 percent more likely than white women to deliver babies early; and higher rates of infant mortality — black babies are about 230 percent more likely than white infants to die within their first year of life.

Why the race gap?

That's the million dollar question. The theory is that the pre-existing conditions for premature birth — namely hypertension, obesity, smoking, diabetes, limited access to health care, drug use, and alcohol use are more prevalent for black women than for white women. If that's the case, it suggests that much broader social issues need to be addressed before black women can enjoy the same fortunes as white women in the delivery room.

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