Childbirth-Related Deaths for Black Women Alarming

According to Dr. David R. Williams, the data that proves that African American women dying at a much higher rate during childbirth and pregnancy is not surprising.

”This pattern is not unique to childbirth,” said Williams, a professor of African and African-American studies and of sociology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. ”It affects the health of African Americans from cradle to grave and has continued for over 100 years. Today, African Americans are more likely to die of 13 of the top 15 causes of death than are whites.”

A college-educated black woman with a well-paying job has a better health outcome than one who is poor and unemployed with no high school diploma. Still, she is not as healthy as her white counterparts. The cause is likely inequalities in our society. Considering major advances in obstetrics, civil rights movement and anti-poverty campaigns, African American women are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women.

Nationwide, compared to whites, blacks earn smaller incomes for the same level of education and have fewer assets, all of which could be used to pay for quality healthcare. African American women also have limited income earlier in lif, giving health issues such as hypertension, heart disease and other conditions a strong hold. All of these can lead to childbirth-related death if not diagnosed or treated in a timely manner.

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. This data is very telling and indicates the vast majority of countries reduced maternal mortality rates at an overall decrease of 34 percent from 1990 and 2000. In contrast, the rate for the United States nearly doubled. This is more alarming when examined along with the total amount Americans spend on childbirth-related care (more than any other area of hospitalization) — $86 billion.

Other than income and education levels, discrimination is a factor as well regarding 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. –a. robinson



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