Recognizing Racial Disparities to Improve Maternal Health

Black Maternal Health Week

Black Maternal Health Week as part of the observation of National Minority Health Month is celebrated annually April 11th – 17th, and even though the week is over, the work is just beginning.

The US has the highest maternal mortality rate among industrialized countries. Since 2000, the maternal mortality rate has risen nearly 60%, making it worse now than it was decades earlier. More than half of these deaths are preventable

With studies showing how Black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women, the Vice President Kamala Harris has deemed it a “national crisis.” Harris took to the University of California on Thursday to call out the United States for having the worst maternal mortality rate among all developed countries, HuffPost reported.

Let’s get into some facts!

  • In 2020, Black women were most disproportionately affected with a mortality rate of 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 19.1 deaths per 100,000 live births, and 18.2 deaths per 100,000 live births for White and Hispanic women, respectively. (Source: CDC)
  • The U.S. has an infant mortality rate of 5.6 per 1000 live births in 2019, with a health disparity among Black babies at a rate of 10.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018. (Source: CDC)
  • Black women are 3 – 5 times more likely to have a maternal death than White women in the United States. (Source: AJMC) 
  • Black mothers are more likely to suffer from PMADs (Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders) like postpartum depression, in silence, and without clinical help. (Source: NCBI)

You might think to yourself that these statistics are just awful and ask, how can we let this happen?

We need to ensure that our expectant mothers are given every equal opportunity to bring their child into this world healthy and happy and are safe while doing so. This begins with listening to all women and trusting they know when something doesn’t feel right.

So what are we to do? Here are some resources on Black Maternal Health and how we can take action!


Kamala Harris
(Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) Vice President Kamala Harris is getting the word out on the Black maternal health crisis during Black Maternal Health Week.

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