Maternal mortality rate for Black women continues to climb, CDC reports
Noya Israel holds her 4-month-old daughter Kezia on July 18, 2019 at Roots Community Birth Center in Minneapolis. While two of her sons were born in a hospital, Israel went to Roots Community Birth Center to deliver Kezia and her third son, Eleazar.Christine T. Nguyen | MPR
Listen to this article here

Giving life remains a dangerous endeavor for some Black women. The maternal mortality rate in the United States continues to climb, especially for Black women. The number of women who died during childbirth has risen to 861 in 2020, from 658 in 2018.

And while those numbers may seem small, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country in the world

The Centers for Disease Control recently released a report by the National Center for Health Statistics regarding the pandemic of women dying during childbirth. The United States’ maternal death rate has increased from about 17 deaths per every 100,000 live births in 2018 to nearly 24 per 100,000 in 2020.

black maternal health week maternal mortality rate
Community-Based Doulas associated with Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative. They support expecting mothers and families in Tulsa. / Facebook photo

Experts sound the alarm

These increases in the maternal mortality rate impact Black women and their families the hardest. 

According to Donna Hobert of the CDC’s Division of Vital Statistics, “Rates for non-Hispanic Black women were significantly higher than rates for non-Hispanic White and Hispanic women. The increases from 2019 to 2020 for non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women were significant.” 

Black women have always had higher rates of maternal mortality than their White counterparts. Some of the reasons for this disparity include medical racism, barriers to healthcare, and lack of access to care in underserved communities. 

In fact, in 2020, the maternal mortality rate for Black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 births. That number is nearly three times higher than the maternal mortality rate for White women.

Fighting for life

The COVID-19 pandemic also continues to highlight racial disparities in all aspects of healthcare, including maternal mortality. As Covid19 has ravaged Black and brown communities, healthcare options have been disrupted and many Black families have been left behind. 

The Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia has come out with several toolkits addressing Black maternal healthcare during the Covid19 pandemic. These toolkits support Black women in seeking high quality care during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.

Additionally, U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL) has introduced the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, a piece of legislation aimed at addressing disparities in the maternal mortality rate for Black women. 

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...

One reply on “Maternal mortality rate for Black women continues to climb, CDC reports”

Comments are closed.