The US has failed to deal with its high rates of maternal mortality on many fronts — particularly for black women
The US has very high maternal mortality rates compared to the rest of the developed world. As Vox’s Julia Belluz has reported, overall maternal deaths have been on the rise in the US, increasing by 27 percent, to 24 deaths per 100,000 births, between 2000 and 2014. Belluz notes that this rate is more than three times the maternal death rate of the United Kingdom, and about eight times the rate of Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
In recent years, a growing number of maternal health-focused organizations and academics have dedicated more time and resources to better understand the crisis.
There is still plenty that we don’t understand, particularly when it comes to the growing gap between the deaths of black mothers and their white peers. According to the CDC, from 2011-2013, black women experienced roughly 43.5 deaths per 100,000 live births on average, compared to 12.7 deaths for white mothers.
Research has shown that a number of factors, including poor access to pre- and postnatal care, chronic stress, the effects of racism, and inadequate medical treatment in the years preceding childbirth are all likely to play a role in a black woman’s likelihood to suffer life-threatening complications in the months surrounding childbirth.
The maternal mortality disparity might appear to stem from economic differences, but research has found that black women in higher economic brackets are still more likely than white women to die from pregnancy- and childbirth-related problems.
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