New Study Shows Black Women More Likely to Die During Pregnancy Than Other Races

by Xara Aziz

A startling new study is underpinning the numerous reports surrounding Black women and their associated higher risks of mortality during and after pregnancy.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the number of women who died within a year after pregnancy more than doubled between 1999 and 2019 in the United States with the highest number of deaths being Black women.

Researchers found that there were an estimated 1,210 maternal deaths in 2019, compared with 505 in 1999. Additionally, the number of deaths per 100,000 live births increased from 12.7 to 32.2 in that 20-year span, while the number of Black women who died rose from 26.7 to 55.4.

“It’s a call to action to all of us to understand the root causes — to understand that some of it is about healthcare and access to healthcare, but a lot of it is about structural racism and the policies and procedures and things that we have in place that may keep people from being healthy,” Dr. Allison Bryant, one of the study’s authors and a senior medical director for health equity at Mass General Brigham in Boston told Al Jazeera.

More alarming were figures that found that among the wealthiest nations in the world, the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality, with common causes including excessive bleeding, infection, heart disease, suicide and drug overdose.

In May, US Olympic champion sprinter Tori Bowie, 32, died from childbirth complications, representing hundreds of Black women who die from the same issues.

“I hate to say it, but I was not surprised by the findings,” Dr. Karen Joynt Maddox, a health services and policy researcher at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis told The Associated Press. “It’s certainly alarming, and just more evidence we have got to figure out what’s going on and try to find ways to do something about this.”

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