Black Maternal Health Crisis

by Jan Frazier

Washington, D.C. (Washington Insider Magazine) –  According to a report by Commonwealth Fund, they have found that in America, having a baby in 2021 has been more dangerous than having one in 2000. Comparing the U.S. with other high-income countries, the U.S. “ranks as one of the worst in maternal mortality, with nearly 700 deaths per year.” The sad thing is that most of these deaths were preventable.

Of even greater significance is that these deaths have a “disproportionate impact on people of color.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that “Black women are three times more likely to die than white women.” This is all because of pregnancy-related issues. 

Throughout most of the world, the CDC has found that the deaths to pregnant mothers are decreasing; however, in the U.S., there seems to be a steady rise. In fact, it has become a “full-blown health crisis.”

Politico has created a virtual event called POLITICO’s Health Care Innovators: Fixing America’s Maternal Health Crisis. This event was presented by CVS. Specific challenges and possible solutions were concepts on which the event focused. People leading this event gathered in May.

Dr. Juliet Nevins, clinical solutions medical director with Aetna – which is a CVS company – specifically called the crisis “a vicious cycle.” Nevins claimed that women of color have higher rates of chronic diseases as they enter into their time of pregnancy. Such chronic diseases could be such conditions as hypertension and diabetes.

Nevins continued by saying, “Social and economic inequities then lead to food insecurity, subpar housing, limited employment opportunities, limited access to quality education – all of this lends itself to reduced health literary….so women of color are entering pregnancy, again, laden with all of these chronic burdens.”

Even if their socio-economic status and education level is high, the death rate for Black women is higher. Navins said, “Bias and racism alone can negatively determine the quality of care provided. There’s emerging data that suggests that the cumulative stress caused by racism poses a risk of death in pregnancy for Black and Brown women.”

This serious problem calls for “all hands on deck.” On a federal level, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been addressing Black maternal health problems. In addition, the Black Maternal Momnibus Act “was introduced in Congress in February and would provide funding to build a diverse perinatal workforce, address social determinants of health and implement better data collection.”


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