What the Kellogg Foundation Is Doing About Inequality in Health Outcomes

It's no secret that there are health-care disparities in this country across racial lines and income levels. Expectant mothers and their unborn offspring are particularly hard hit by the dynamics of inequality in the American health-care system — and with life-and-death consequences. Infant mortality in the United States is more than twice as common among black women, for example, as it is among white women. There are also alarming statistics regarding the relationship between race and preterm labor.

Essentially, economic and racial inequities in prenatal care have depressing — if not entirely unexpected — consequences for America's offspring. So it is encouraging that some of the nation's great philanthropists have partnered with some of our great medical minds to improve the survival odds of future children in the United States. More specifically, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation recently granted $600,000 to the University of Nebraska Medical Center to continue its work toward reducing inequity in birth outcomes for American women. (See W.K. Kellogg: Grants for Hospitals and Health Centers.)

The Kellogg Foundation, which focuses on childhood well-being, has been interested in the role of race in infant mortality rates for years. (Read Kellogg Program Director Linda Jo Doctor's IP profile.) It has financed extensive research into the subject, and in 2011 a group of Kellogg Foundation beneficiaries in six U.S. communities released a collaborative report on reducing racial disparities in infant mortality rates.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center, meanwhile, is home to the Flourish Project, which focuses on improving birth outcomes in communities where access to health care is poor. The Flourish Project is specifically engaged in research, outreach, and education in Nebraska, where preterm delivery is a persistent problem.

The Kellogg Foundation granted more than $10 million to 62 organizations in 2013 in the area of "healthy kids," plus gave millions of dollars to dozens of organizations focused on children's health in the year prior. Information on Kellogg Foundation money for grantseekers is here. (See W.K. Kellogg Foundation: Grants for Public Health.)