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Inequality in infant health in the United States is much higher than in similarly wealthy countries. There are large disparities in infant health by race and socioeconomic status. For example, relative to non-Hispanic White mothers, African American mothers are 90% more likely to have a low birth weight birth (defined as less than 2,500 grams) and 70% more likely to have a preterm birth (defined as less than 37 weeks gestation). Unmarried mothers and those with low education levels have higher rates of adverse birth outcomes relative to their married and more educated counterparts.

Disadvantage in early-life health often translates into poor adult outcomes. Therefore, policies that target early-life conditions, especially among vulnerable populations, may ameliorate intergenerational persistence of economic disadvantage and reduce inequality.

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