By Alexa Karczmar
Maternal health in the U.S. has been on the decline for the past forty years. The Department of Health and Human Services has reported that maternal mortality has been on the rise for the last three years, and in the 2014 Trends in Maternal Mortality report, the American maternal mortality rate (MMR) had more than doubled in the preceding 13 years .The same report demonstrated that the MMR of the U.S. had the highest level of annual increase in maternal death in all of the countries they had studied.
This crisis disproportionately affects Black women, who are more than four times more likely to die in childbirth than White women . Black women face higher rates of poverty than White women and are less likely to be insured . They have higher rates of chronic health conditions that are considered risk factors in maternal death, including heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited chronic health conditions as a major risk factor for maternal mortality and suspect in its rates of increase, and the impact of these diseases on Black women are likely exacerbated by their underrepresentation in clinical trials.
Per the Black Mamas Matter Toolkit, Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW) is a week intended to:
- Increase attention to the state of Black maternal health in the US;
- Amplify the voices of Black mamas, women, families, and stakeholders;
- Serve as a national platform for Black-women led entities and efforts on maternal; health, birth justice, and reproductive justice; and
- Enhance community organizing on Black maternal health.
This month, our blog posts and newsletters will further highlight maternal health, sex-inclusive research, and potential solutions in healthcare policy and practice.
You can learn more about BMHW and the Black Mamas Matter Alliance by following them on Twitter @BlkMamasMatter and visiting their website at blackmamamasmatter.org.
1. Unicef, Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2013. 2014.
2. Creanga, A.A., et al., Maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States: where are we now? Journal of Women's Health, 2014. 23(1): p. 3-9.
3. Stephens, J., S. Artiga, and J. Paradise, Health coverage and care in the south in 2014 and beyond. 2014: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
4. Robbins, C., et al., Disparities in Preconception Health Indicators - Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2013-2015, and Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 2013-2014. MMWR Surveill Summ, 2018. 67(1): p. 1-16.