This Black Maternal Health Week, its time to end the Black Maternal Health Crisis
The CDC recently released its report on maternal health, and the results are grim. According to the CDC, in 2021, there was a 40% increase in maternal death from the previous year. The U.S. rate for 2021 was 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is more than ten times the estimated rates of some other “high-income” countries. In a separate report, the CDC has determined that 84% of those pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. were preventable.
But not every community fairs the same. Their data shows that Black women are 2.6 times more likely to die during pregnancy through the first few weeks postpartum than White women.
What is to blame for these disparities? A combination of factors. 2021 was the height of the Covid19 pandemic and many pregnant people may have forgone care due to overcrowding of hospitals. The strain on the healthcare industry during the pandemic only exacerbated the already high maternal death in the Black community due to well-documented lack of access to care, quality of care, implicit bias from medical professionals, and institutional racism.
Margo Snipe, writer for the nonprofit Capital B, focused on the state of Georgia, home to over 3.3 million Black residents discovered Black Georgians were more likely to live in counties without prenatal or obstetric care than their White counterparts with half of the predominantly Black counties being maternity care deserts, compared with less than a third of majority white counties. More labor and delivery units closed in mostly Black counties than White counties. Snipe says in her report:
“Despite advancements in medicine and technology, racial disparities in who dies and who suffers the worst complications have persisted for decades. Black women make up most of Georgia’s maternal deaths. They are also nearly twice as likely as white women to experience life-threatening complications as a result of childbirth, such as hemorrhage, infection, and cardiac issues.”
That is only the state of Georgia.