Health

African-American Women Face Greater Maternal Health Disparities

One disparity that disproportionately affects Black women remains maternal health.

In fact, that cohort of women remain more likely to experience mortality during or after childbirth. According to the Centers for Disease Control [CDC], “Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.”

However, in many cases these deaths can be prevented. But due to implicit bias, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism and insufficient care, Black women disproportionately experience pregnancy-related deaths more often, according to the CDC.

It’s important to detect early signs of possible pregnancy throughout the term.

Several warning signs that the CDC lists include: dizziness/fainting, changes in vision, extreme swelling in hands or face, a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, trouble breathing, chest pain or fast breathing, severe nausea and throwing up, severe pain in the belly that doesn’t go away and slowing or stopping of the baby’s movement.

Other warning signs include: headaches that won’t go away or get worse, vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluid during pregnancy, thoughts of harming yourself or the baby, vaginal bleeding or discharge after pregnancy, severe swelling, pain or redness in arms or legs or being overwhelmingly tired.

It is advised that documentation of symptoms or any changes which occur during the pregnancy be noted and reported during each appointment with your physician.

In a 2018 study written by Elizabeth A. Howell, “Reducing Disparities in Severe Maternal Morbidity and Mortality,” the author posits that one solution in reducing the disparity is to improve educational opportunities for hospital staff that lead to more effective communication, particularly with women of other ethnic groups. She also said it’s important for health care providers to examine and understand some of the disparities that may be taking place within their own hospitals and healthcare systems.

With about 700 deaths occurring from pregnancy-related complications and 50,000 experiencing pregnancy-related complications, the disparities among Black women with their maternity health continue to be of mounting concern both for women and for their health providers.

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