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No single factor explains why infant mortality rates are higher for blacks both nationally and in Virginia.

Nationally, infant mortality among blacks in 2000 occurred at a rate of 14.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, compared to the national average of 6.9 deaths.

The state Department of Health says black women in Virginia are about 2.5 times likelier to experience infant mortality than women of other races.

Pamela Hammond, dean of Hampton University‘s School of Nursing, says biology, access to health care and socio-economic issues all play a role.

In 2007, 839 infants died in Virginia, a rate of 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.

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