Why Are More Black Women Dying During Childbirth?

American mothers die during labor more than in any other developed country — and those most in danger are mothers of color.

Black women in America are more likely to die during or after giving labor due to racial disparities in maternal health in this country. According to an article published by NPR, black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, making it one of the widest of all disparities in women’s health. In other words:

"A black woman is 22% more likely to die from heart disease than a white woman, 71% more likely to die from cervical cancer, but 243% more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related issues."

 



So what is going on here? Income, education, environment? According to research and science, the problem is racism. Systematic racism that plaques many black people. Access to healthy food and clean water, safe living and work environments, quality healthcare. Lack of access to these health-promoting resources can show up in many ways:

  • Unconscious biases in the medical system, impacting how medical professionals perceive and respond to patients of color
  • Lack of diversity in the medical profession that could lead to misunderstanding and inappropriate treatment 
  • Black women who are uninsured are slower to start prenatal care
  • Black women receive care in a crowded hospital that is more likely to provide a lower quality of care

 

With rates and issues like these, we need more resources and systems in place to help combat maternal mortality risk for women of color.

Hospitals should participate in Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM), a community committed to improving maternal outcomes in the United States.

    Medical professionals should have to learn about cultural sensitivity and cultural competency courses should be included in their licensing or accreditation programs.



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    Do you have any suggestions on what we can do as a community to combat maternal mortality risk for women of color