From birth to death, Black Americans fare worse in measures of health compared to their white counterparts. They have higher rates of infant and maternal mortality, higher incidence of asthma during childhood, more difficulty treating mental health as teens, and greater rates of high blood pressure, Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses.

The Associated Press spent the past year exploring how the legacy of racism in America has laid the foundation for the health inequities that Black people face.

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From Birth 
To Death

Black Americans and a Lifetime of Disparities

Photos by WONG MAYE-E
Illustrations by PETER HAMLIN
Close-up of Angelica and Ansonia Lyons with their arms around each other.

Why do so many Black women die in pregnancy? One reason: Doctors don't take them seriously

by Kat Stafford
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of Black infants were born prematurely in 2021. Black babies were born prematurely more than any other racial or ethnic group.
Catherine Mason carries two boxes of medical equipment with her children behind her. She wears scrubs and has a worried expression.

Black children are more likely to have asthma. A lot comes down to where they live

by Kat Stafford
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of Black children suffer from asthma. Black children are twice as likely to suffer from asthma compared to white children.
An illustration of a black woman with headphones holding a phone with buildings, trees, the clouds, and the sun in the background.

Black kids face racism before they even start school. It's driving a major mental health crisis

by Annie Ma
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of Black youth said they were exposed to racial trauma often or very often in their life. 50% experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression.
A frame holding photos of Melanese Marr-Thomas, Charles Thomas, and their family while Melanese Marr-Thomas is looking afar in the foreground.

High blood pressure plagues many Black Americans. Combined with COVID, it's catastrophic

by Kat Stafford
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of African Americans are likely to develop high blood pressure by age 55. High blood pressure was listed as a contributing factor in over 20% of COVID deaths of Black people.
Jessica Guthrie is adjusting the glasses of her mother Constance Guthrie, while she is laying in bed.

A lifetime of racism makes Alzheimer’s more prevalent in Black Americans

by Kat Stafford
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of Black Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s, compared to 10% of white people. By 2060, cases are expected to increase fourfold.

The health inequities documented in this project have their roots in a long history of medical racism. The AP has collected a small sample of that history related to every phase of life.

Medical Racism in History

Digital Presentation Credits

Producers: Samantha Shotzbarger, Josh Housing

Text Editing: Anna Jo Bratton, Andale Gross

Contributing Writers: Annie Ma, Aaron Morrison

Graphics: Kevin S. Vineys, Angeliki Kastanis

Design and Development: Linda Gorman, Eunice Esomonu, Kati Perry

Audience Coordination and Production: Edward Medeles, Elise Ryan, Almaz Abedje, Sophia Rosenbaum

Creative Development: Raghuram Vadarevu

Project Management: Andale Gross

Project Vision and Development: Kat Stafford

Stafford, based in Detroit, is a national investigative race writer for the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. She was a 2022 Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellow at the University of Michigan.