The CDC released a new report late last week, Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Pregnancy-Related Deaths — United States, 2007–2016, that reiterates the maternal mortality disparity between black mothers and American Indian/Alaska Native women and white, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander women. The numbers now seem worse than we originally thought. For example, black women who are college educated die in larger numbers than white women with less than a high school diploma. And, even in states where overall maternal mortality is low, black women still die in larger numbers.
In addition, the CDC acknowledges that “black women experience earlier deterioration of health because of the cumulative impact of exposure to psychosocial, economic, and environmental stressors.” In other words, a contributor to maternal death rates among black women is structural racism in healthcare settings.
Interestingly, data was also released last week by Charlotte, NC-based Premier Inc. called Bundle of Joy: Maternal and Infant Health Trends. Of 900 US hospitals, they found a 24 percent decrease in delivery-related maternal deaths from 2008 – 2018. And, they found a 80 percent decrease in maternal mortality for black women during delivery. Premier Inc. maintains that while their findings do not cover the full spectrum of maternal mortality causes as the CDC, they believe their data is more current as it goes through last year.
While Premier found a decrease in delivery-related deaths across the board, they did find that maternal morbidity increased 36 percent from 2008 – 2018. Potential causes for the maternal morbidity increase include coding, age, race, payer, type of delivery, substance use, region, hospital type and other factors.
With so many stories and articles about black maternal morality, a very popular article, This Isn’t Another Horror Story About Black Motherhood, was published last week in the Washington Post about moving beyond the startling statistics. It was a nice way to try to even the scales when it comes to black motherhood.
Yesterday the Department of Health and Human Services announced approximately $351 million in funding to 56 states, territories, and nonprofit organizations through its Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV Program) and approximately $23 million in funding to three new programs aimed at improving maternal health outcomes.
An article from Zimbabwe circulated around social media about the senseless death of a mother who was neglected by nurses in a hospital while she was delivering her baby. They believed that she was moaning and asking for help in order to get attention. She died begging for help.
This is yet another case showing the importance of the Respectful Maternity Care charter.