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Health inequities persist in Connecticut: 14,000 excess deaths among Black population

People standing at end of corridor in a hospital.
FangXiaNuo / Getty Images
Two people standing at end of corridor in hospital

DataHaven’s new Health Equity in Connecticut 2023 report found that inequities resulted in 14,000 excess deaths among Connecticut’s Black population compared to its white demographic.

The report includes data between 2017 and 2022 from statewide and national mortality records, the DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey of randomly-selected adults throughout Connecticut, and census data.

“Some of those [deaths among the Black population] were driven by COVID, a pretty large chunk, about 10%,” said Kelly Davila, senior research associate at DataHaven, a nonprofit. “And then the other kind of major causes were chronic kidney disease and heart disease, both of which stem from outcomes that would be otherwise preventable. For example, obesity or asthma.”

The study found that up to 20% of Black adults and low-income adults statewide, especially people living in Hartford and New Haven, had experienced some sort of discrimination in a health care setting recently.

Data also showed that fetal mortality is more than twice as high — and infant mortality more than three times as high — for Black babies compared to white babies in Connecticut.

Davila was concerned that rural hospitals had already, or are in the process of closing down their maternity units.

“That will more than likely have an effect on birth outcomes in those areas,” she said. “There are studies done that we referenced in the report, where low-income white women had better birth outcomes than higher income Black women; meaning that income itself and access itself — all things being the same — are not necessarily the drivers of poor outcomes for Black women in birth. Race plays a huge part as well.”

The data also showed that Black men and boys between ages 15 and 24 made up 37% of gun homicide victims in Connecticut, but comprise only 3% of the state’s total population.

"DataHaven's use of a health equity lens empowers local policymakers, organizations, and most importantly, communities, to act in ways that will make a difference for Connecticut residents' health,” said Dr. Megan Ranney, dean of the Yale School of Public Health and one of the reviewers of the report.

Additional findings include:

  • Statewide, low-income adults are five times as likely as high income adults to report feeling chronically depressed.
  • Nearly twice as many young adults ages 18–34 report having asthma compared to adults 65 and over.
  • Fentanyl — a major influence in the rise in overdose deaths — was found in 85% of Connecticut’s fatal overdose victims in 2022.
  • The share of adults who feel they have access to affordable fruits and vegetables where they live ranges from 90% in many wealthy suburbs to less than 50% in Hartford.
Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.

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