Black Maternal Health of New York City

Part: 5

Embolism Stalks Black Moms With Lethal Bias

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Embolism is a major danger of pregnancy. But recent data from New York City finds black women dying from it in numbers that are startling, given the well-known interventions. A disparity in health care could be the culprit, but no one is asking.

Page 2 of 2

The Role of Race

"We definitely have to question the role of race in this disparity," Bridges said. "My work--with predominantly women of color--shows these women receive lower quality care even if you control for class and insurance type…When there aren't any calls to action or dramatic efforts are not being made to address this preventable death, we have to query whether the lack of action is related to whom is being affected."

"Pregnancy is already a hyper-coagulated state," said Dr. Tamara Magloire, director of ambulatory obstetrics and gynecology at Jamaica Hospital in Queens, N.Y. "There may also be inherited genetic conditions or preexisting health conditions that could make a woman more likely to have blood clots."

Magloire says there's no obvious genetic disposition for the higher rate among black women.

"Some of it could be prenatal care--coming in late or some of the medical institutions not having protocols to identify patients who are at risk. Obesity and other health conditions can predispose these women to having a C-section, which is a set up to be more likely to have venous thrombosis," she said. Physicians should be doing a better job of identifying patients who are at risk and using therapies that decrease the risks, Magloire added. "The interventions work."

She also hopes patients and consumers bring more attention to the issue.

"Within medicine there is more attention now than a few years ago. But it's the consumers who can bring about more interest. I don't think the average woman knows their risk of dying from embolism," she said.


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Kimberly Seals Allers is an award-winning journalist and editorial director of the Black Maternal Health project at Women's eNews. A former senior editor at Essence and writer at Fortune, she is the founder of, a parenting destination for African Americans, and author of "The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy" (Amistad/HarperCollins) and two other Mocha Manual books.

For more information:

"Pregnancy-Associated Mortality: New York City, 2001-2005" report:

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With two articles in a few days, detailing problems for black women in receiving well researched, and adequate heath care in New York hospitals, begs several questions. In what other places are black women so at risk compared to all others? How soon are the affected hospitals going to seriously improve medical care for black women and their babies?


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