Why U.S Black Women Are Facing 3 Times the Death Rate in Childbirth Compared With White Women

Why U.S Black Women Are Facing 3 Times the Death Rate in Childbirth Compared With White Women

Statistics point to much more than casual differences when it comes to equality in medical care.

It’s unbelievable. When you look at the statistics gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on maternal mortality, you’ll be shocked. Black women in the United States face three times the death rate in childbirth compared with others.

Black women experience 44 deaths per 100,000 live births, whereas white women experience 13 per 100,000 and “women of other races” 14. The disparity is enormous.

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Why is it there? A recent article on NPR.org highlights the story of Shalon Irving, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who died from hypertension following the birth of her daughter. The reasons cited are systemic.

Everything from differing access to healthy food, safe drinking water, safe neighborhoods, quality schools, good jobs and reliable transportation come into play.

The fact that black women are more likely to be uninsured when they’re not pregnant, meaning that prenatal care starts later and postpartum coverage ends sooner, is also a contributing factor.

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What about equal treatment? It’s been shown through surveys that these women often feel subjected to unconscious bias when seeking medical treatment. This is something that’s backed up with statistical evidence, and results in worse care, such as less pain treatment being given and patients’ conditions going under-diagnosed.

It’s worth reading Shalon’s story. The group is only as strong as the weakest link.

Photo credits: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

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