Black Maternal Health of New York City

Part: 3

Black Women's Maternal Risks Go Unquestioned

Friday, April 22, 2011

Finding out why so many more African American women die in childbirth starts with keeping statistics and spotting problems in hospitals. Right now there is no federal requirement to report maternal deaths so remedies are hard to prescribe.

Page 2 of 2

Toll of Discrimination

Discrimination over a lifetime and institutional racism take an immeasurable toll on women's health. Recent studies have shown that prolonged stress may increase anyone's risk for infection. Stress may also trigger the release of hormones that lead to premature labor.

America's overall record on maternal mortality is poor. A 2010 report by the United Nations placed the United States 50th in the world for maternal mortality.

The U.N. data indicated that the vast majority of countries reduced maternal mortality ratios for a global decrease of 34 percent between 1990 and 2000, while the rate nearly doubled in the United States. America's standing is alarming because the United States spends more on childbirth-related care than any other area of hospitalization--$86 billion a year.

Maternal mortality suffers from a poverty of interest.

The CDC estimates that quality maternal care could prevent 40 to 50 percent of maternal deaths and 30 to 40 percent of near-deaths and complications. But research to determine more effective practices has languished in the last 40 years because scientists and clinicians have focused on reducing infant deaths.

"At the beginning of the 20th century, the number of maternal deaths plummeted because we took a close look at why women were dying and came up with innovations in prenatal care and delivery," said Dr. Franklyn H. Geary Jr., a professor and director of the division of maternal fetal medicine of obstetrics at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. "Similar research is needed today because maternal mortality is a daunting problem, especially for African Americans."


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Sharon Johnson is a New York-based freelance writer.

For more information:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses:

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High rates of maternal deaths occur due to poor nutrition and medical care. In developing nations, as well as rural areas the mortality rate is more due to lack of skilled medical care during childbirth and the distance of traveling to the nearest clinic.
To reduce the mortality, advanced health programmes should be introduced to help the poor countries.
I would like to suggest a documentary related to this article, “No Woman Should Die Giving Birth: Maternal Mortality in Sierra Leone” a painful documentary, where over 50% live on less then one dollar a day and a quarter live in extreme poverty, the poorer you are the more likely you are to die giving birth.
To watch this documentary online visit :


Part: 5

Embolism Stalks Black Moms With Lethal Bias

Part: 4

Study Details Causes of High Maternal Death Rates

Part: 3

Black Women's Maternal Risks Go Unquestioned

Part: 2

NYC's High Maternal Deaths Defy Usual Explanations

Part: 1

NYC's Rising Black Maternal Mortality Unexplained