A new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) highlights just how poor maternal health is in the United States. Although data is limited, the data that we do have shows this hasn’t improved, but worsened, over the past few decades. Current CDC estimates figure that a shocking three out of every five maternal deaths are preventable. How was it that the wealthiest country in the history of the world fails it’s mothers, children, and families so significantly?
Not only are American mothers more likely to die than those from any other developed nation, but the risk is much higher for minorities. For every 100,000 live births in the United States, 13 white mothers don’t survive. For American Indians that number more than doubles at 32.5 deaths per 100,000 live births. Compared to white mothers, black mothers are more than three times as likely to die at 42.8 deaths per 100,000 live births.
This disparity occurs for many reasons which include: use by minorities of lower quality hospitals, lack of insurance, underlying conditions like heart disease, and a deeply embedded system of structural racism.
The following video from the American Heart Association highlights this issue and its causes.