Reducing inequities in maternal mortality among Black women - Primary Health

Reducing inequities in maternal mortality among Black women

  • April 16, 2024

  • Adi Chandrasekhar, MD, MPH, FACP

  • 2 minutes

black maternal health

Screening and treatment for chronic conditions during pregnancy is one way to curb the maternal health crisis among Black women.

A pregnancy is an exciting time in the lives of most people who look forward to the arrival of their baby. However, throughout human history, this excitement has been tempered by the risk that pregnancies placed on young women’s lives. While modern medicine has greatly reduced that risk, inequities persist in maternal mortality. And no inequity is starker than the gaps in maternal mortality between Black women and White women. 

Black women are 2.6 times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. This number is even more glaring in some parts of the country. For example, in New York City, Black women are 9 times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. Maternal mortality for black women has also been in the news, with celebrities not immune to the effects of this disparity. The tragic death of Olympian Tori Bowie, aged just 32, was linked to complications from childbirth. 

Actions to reduce disparities

These numbers are grim and what is even more tragic is that the vast majority of these pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. So what can be done to address this issue? Here are some areas we need to work on to eliminate this disparity:

  • Patient education

We must educate pregnant women on what signs and symptoms during pregnancy need medical attention. It is also important to highlight that pregnancy-related complications can arise after birth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights some key symptoms that providers can share with patients. 

  • Healthcare staff training

Unconscious bias on the part of caregivers is often a key reason that symptoms and concerns reported by Black women during pregnancy get ignored. Instituting better training for staff can help them pause and identify these biases.

  • Improved chronic disease care

Chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease can all increase risks during pregnancy. It is important to ensure that patients get appropriate care and screening for these conditions during pregnancy. Primary.Health will partner with you to provide accessible and affordable screening for HbA1c, hemoglobin, cholesterol, urinalysis, and more to help keep your people healthy during this critical time.

  • Social determinants of health

Finally, we must realize that our health cannot be viewed in isolation. Addressing factors like food insecurity, lack of housing, substance use, domestic abuse, and lack of transportation is key to optimizing the outcome of any pregnancy.

Disclaimer: This blog content and linked materials are not intended as individual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered as such. Any readers with medical concerns should contact a licensed healthcare provider. This blog is provided for informational purposes only.

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