Study Reports Racial Divide in Maternal Mortality Rate

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study that reports that black women are four times more likely to die from giving birth than white women.

The research explored birth and death certificates of women who died during pregnancy, giving childbirth, or from complications within 42 days after childbirth. The study examined all certificates from the years 1987 to 1996.

Massachusetts shows the lowest maternal mortality rates in both black (8.7 per 100,000 deaths) and white women (2.7), while New York reports the highest rates (28.7 per 100,000 black women and 7.6 per 100,000 white women).

Black women had a higher risk from dying of preeclampsia (high blood pressure caused by pregnancy), hemorrhage, and embolisms. Reasons for these racial disparities are believed to transcend socioeconomic differences, given that even wealthy and well-educated black women had a greater maternal death rate than their white peers.

Experts note that black women are less likely to get quality prenatal care than are whites, and are more likely to be in poor health, and more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, which complicates pregnancies.


New York Times and AP - June 18, 1999

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