By Dominic Taylor-
A report by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has found that women in majority Black communities had a 63% higher rate of maternal morbidities than women in white majority communities.
Women in majority Hispanic communities had a 33% higher rate of morbidity than their white counter parts. The rate of severe maternal morbidity increased by 9% for all women between 2018 and 2020. But Hispanic women saw the biggest increase of 19%.
Researchers found that women over the age of 35 experienced higher rates of severe maternal morbidity overall, women in majority Black communities under the age of 35 had higher rates of severe maternal morbidity than women over the age of 35 in majority white communities.
“There is an urgent maternal health crisis in our country,” said Kim Keck, president and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in a statement. “It is unconscionable that women of color face a greater risk of childbirth complications compared to white women. We must confront health disparities across the board to change the trajectory.”
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says severe maternal morbidities include unexpected outcomes in labour and delivery that result in short- or long-term health consequences. Severe morbidity has been increasing in recent years, the CDC says, although its most recent data on severe morbidity is from 2014.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association report used the CDC’s severe maternal morbidity defined indicators, which include cardiac arrest, sepsis and shock. The report found that women in majority Black and Hispanic communities also have higher rates of these morbidity indicators. And women in majority Black communities were twice as likely to have risk factors, including high blood pressure.
Researchers concluded that centuries of economic and institutional racism was to blame for highly limited access to healthcare and affected the level of treatment they receive from the medical establishment.
Some other researchers have pointed to comparatively less discipline n terms of health practises by Black and Hispanic mothers compared with their white counter parts. Levels of stress was also a potential factor in the high rates of maternal deaths among black women.
Researchers used risk factors that were identified using the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative’s risk adjustment system.
The report included a survey of 750 women who gave birth in the past year, representing a mix of commercial insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and no insurance. Sixty-two percent of Black mothers completed all prenatal visits according to the report, compared to 82% of white women. Seventy-one percent of Hispanic mothers completed prenatal visits.
In April, the CDC released a new report showing that the rate
A different report in April 2019 found that black women in the UK were also more likely to die from maternal complications than white women.