Black Moms 3.5 Times More Likely Than White Moms To Die In Childbirth, Except In This One State
While the national racial disparity gap in childbirth death is growing, North Carolina is closing it.
July 04, 2017 at 12:37 am
Here’s a unsettling fact: American moms are more likely to die during childbirth than mothers in any other developed country.
Here's an even more disturbing fact: African American women lead the pack of childbirth-based deaths.
According to new CDC figures, African American women are three and a half times more likely to die during or shortly after childbirth than white Americans.
The childbirth mortality rate for white women was found to be 12 per 100,000 live births; for black women the figure was 40 per 100,000 live births.
Although experts aren't completely sure what is causing this disparity, CDC officials who spoke to Vox pointed to several factors.
These include: the unique existential stresses that black American women face, health differences between black women and white women, the connection between race and income and the inferior care that black women receive in comparison to their white counterparts.
In all of that bad news, there is one bright spot: North Carolina.
As of 2013, in that state, the pregnancy-related mortality rate was 23 per 100,000 births for both white and black moms.
So, what’s different about North Carolina?
Apparently, the state focuses on income, not on race.
The state has a Medicaid-run program called Pregnancy Medical Home for low-income pregnant women.
Through this program, doctors have positive-reinforcement incentives for detecting early high-risk pregnancy issues (i.e. preeclampsia) and low income moms are paired with “pregnancy care managers” to guide them through the pregnancy and reduce health risks.
“[The] care manager will visit women at the doctor’s office or at the home,” said Kathryn Menard, director of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of North Carolina. “[The manager will] help mothers overcome any barriers in adhering to a care plan — like food insecurity, housing issues, access to insulin."
The primary goal of the program is pre-term birth prevention, added Kate Berrien, vice president of clinical programs at Community Care of North Carolina. “By tackling women’s health problems before she goes into labor, we mitigate her risks.” Because of this care, riskier procedures such as C-sections have also decreased among Medicaid patients.
“I believe this program really helps with our health care inequities that exist,” noted Menard. “If you can help people navigate through the system and they’ve got peers in their community helping with care management — that makes a difference.”
It takes a village, indeed.