Black women are taking the lead in childbirth and pregnancy-related deaths, rivaling the numbers in some developing countries, according to new studies from the State of New York and California.
An original report released in 2008 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that Blacks have a four-time greater risk of pregnancy-related deaths than whites.
But when looking more closely at those numbers by states such as New York, Blacks are nearly eight times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than whites. In California, Blacks are four times as likely.
Since the mid-1990s maternal mortality rates have been rising. In 1997, the Black maternal mortality rate was 21.5 deaths per 100,000 live births, in comparison to 8.0 deaths for Hispanics and 5.2 deaths for white babies. In 2008 the numbers jumped to 36.1 deaths per 100,000 live births for Blacks, 8.5 deaths for Hispanics and 9.6 deaths for whites.
“The magnitude of this Black-white gap in maternal mortality is the greatest among all health disparities...and that gap is growing. It’s unacceptable,” Michael Lu, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and public health recently told PBS NewsHour.
Some of the causes for the large disparity include access to quality health care, lifestyle and diet.