America suffers from maternal mortality disparities

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

RaceWire’s Michelle Chen took the time recently to remind readers that, while we are celebrating the decline of infant and childbirth-related mortality worldwide, there are still huge disparities in maternal mortality within the United States. For example, according to 1999-2004 NCHS numbers, top-ranked Maine loses only 1.3 mothers per 100,000 live births; that number is 34.9 in bottom-ranked D.C. and 20.5 in Georgia.

(New York City) Health officials found that of the 161 mothers who died of pregnancy-related causes between 2001 and 2005, Black women were seven times more likely to die than white women. The death rates for Asian and Latina women were twice as high compared to whites. While some affluent neighborhoods like Manhattan’s Chelsea were untouched by maternal mortality, the highest death rates were in enclaves associated with low-income communities of color, like Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and Jamaica.

Chen writes that the disparities may be caused by a number of socioeconomic factors, including the lack of health insurance and the impact of health factors like obesity that affect blacks disproportionately.

RaceWire is the blog of ColorLines, which bills itself as “the national magazine on race and politics.”

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