publicidad
African American women suffer from structural racism and are sometimes mistreated, especially if they are treated in public hospitals or don't have health insurance.

Maternal mortality in the U.S.: Why African American women die four times more often than white women

Maternal mortality in the U.S.: Why African American women die four times more often than white women

The Fusion documentary "Death by Delivery" looks at the disparity in the number of African American and white women who die from complications during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum.

African American women suffer from structural racism and are sometimes m...
African American women suffer from structural racism and are sometimes mistreated, especially if they are treated in public hospitals or don't have health insurance.

“If the numbers were reversed and white women were dying at the rate black women are dying, there would be political will to address this problem.”

That's how Katrina Anderson, senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, describes the discrimination and enormous disadvantages faced by black mothers, who are far more likely than white mothers to die from complications during pregnancy, delivery and post-delivery.

Although the problem is complex, many experts say the principal cause can be summed up in a single word: racism.

A new Fusion documentary, The Naked Truth: Death by Delivery, featuring journalist Nelufar Hedayat, looks at the difficulties encountered by mothers of color in states like Georgia – which has the worst rate of maternal mortality – and New York.

Lea esta nota en español

A pregnancy or delivery that ends in the mother's death is an indicator not only of poverty but also of gender inequality and social injustice. The United States has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality among developed countries, and the numbers have been rising since 1987.

La muerte materna refleja problemas estructurales, tanto de acceso al co...
Maternal mortality reflects structural obstacles, including access to birth control and health care.

The most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 17 such deaths out of 100,000 births.

Sick before even becoming pregnant

The documentary puts a face to the devastating numbers. It tells the story of Gale, 42, an African American who has two children and is pregnant with a third. Her house is one hour from the nearest health center in Augusta, Georgia.

“I don't know what I'm going to do if I have an emergency. That's very disturbing. There's nothing they can do for me here,” said Gale, who suffers from gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and weight problems – all factors in high-risk pregnancies.

Her case reflects how structural racism affects women of color. They face more complications during pregnancy, delivery and post-delivery as well as limitations on access to quality health care. They are also more likely to live in poor communities with fewer services and resources and less access to healthy food and exercise – all factors critical to a healthy life.

publicidad

“These injustices affect women's health before they even become pregnant," said Dr. Deborah Kaplan, an assistant commissioner with the New York City Health Department. "If you are already a victim of racism and you suffer chronic stress, trauma or another health problem, that significantly reduces the possibility of a healthy pregnancy.”

Grupos de activistas están luchando para mejorar el acceso a proveedores...
Activists are fighting to improve access to quality health providers and help families shattered by loss.

Data shows that African American women fare worse than white women, no matter their salaries or level of education. The places where they live and work can directly impact their pregnancies. And those same factors can cause death.

Groups of activists, like the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, offer counsel on how to prevent maternal mortality and agree that the root of the problems is racism.

“Black women are treated differently because of the color of their skin,” psychologist and researcher Fleda Jackson said in the documentary. “Many don't know their rights and suffer abuses, and they don't have insurance. And they also suffer from sexism. They are black and they are women. There is no rest for them in these circumstances.”

The case of New York City

In New York City, African American women are more likely to die from a complication during pregnancy or birth than the U.S. national average. Between 2006 to 2010, they were 12 times more likely than white women to die.

publicidad

“We have a very segregated city, and that didn't happen overnight. That's the result of years and years of policies to exclude and oppress women of color in general,” Kaplan told Univision Noticias.

“We have to take into account the issues that most affect them: the homes, the food, the security of their streets, the violence they are exposed to and that can impact their health and increase the probability of chronic diseases and stress, which keep them from having a healthy pregnancy,” she added.

A study by the New York City Health Department found that even black women with higher levels of education, such as university studies, showed a worse health picture than white women who had not graduated from high school.

“The United States is the only country with an advanced economy where maternal mortality rose in the last decade,” said Anderson. “We don't see this as an issue of resources, but where those resources are invested. It is not helping the poorest women.”

To confront the crisis, New York City has established a review committee of doctors, administrators and community residents and leaders to determine solutions.

“Through our Healthy Start program we are also focusing on the neighborhoods that have the highest severe maternal morbidity rates in North and Central Brooklyn", explained Dr. Kaplan. “We're also supporting the prenatal care programs that help to reduce preterm births. We must talk about this injustice. We have a great opportunity to make a difference.”

Learn more.

publicidad


publicidad
publicidad
This 9 year-old child is one of the 75 million people who benefit from the Medicaid program. His parents explain in this video why they fear losing the assistance they receive if the large cuts proposed by Republicans are approved.
A group of Argentines diagnosed with mental illness set up a radio station from where they broadcast their experiences
The disease affects a third of the residents in south Texas, a largely Hispanic area. Few Latinos have access to health services.
Professor Ariel Merari explains the minds behind political and religious martyrdom.
Geraldine Bazán casi pierde a Gabriel Soto tras salir de MQB... y no por culpa de Marjorie de Sousa
Aunque en tiempos recientes ha salido a relucir una y otra vez la crisis que enfrentaron por las fotos del actor con la venezolana, hace cuatro años la pareja se había separado tras presumir en la pista de baile cuánto se adoraban. En ese entonces, ¿quién fue la causante?
En fotos: Karla Martínez luce su bronceado y su colección de trajes de baño en México
No te quedes sin ver las fotos que ha compartido la conductora de Despierta América, disfrutando con su familia de la belleza de su querido México.
El eclipse puede generar problemas en los estados que usan energía solar
Aunque en la mayoría de Estados Unidos el fenómeno natural será parcial, las redes eléctricas se verán afectadas. Guillermo Bautista, director de análisis y pronóstico de California ISO, manifiesta que habría una pérdida del suministro hasta en seis millones de residencias. Guillermo Quiroz, embajador del Sistema Solar de la NASA, explica qué sucederá cuando la Luna tape el Sol.
Sitios turísticos para ver el eclipse de sol en Illinois están agotados
El astrónomo José Francisco Salgado asegura que el eclipse se verá desde el estado de Oregón hasta Carolina del Sur, y agrega que en Illinois el fenómeno se verá por más tiempo y más alto en el cielo.
publicidad
"Somos la resistencia que esperábamos": Boston responde a la ultraderecha
La marcha en defensa de la libertad de expresión convocada para este sábado por la ultraderecha encontró una fuerte resistencia en las calles de la ciudad, lo que aumenta el temor de que se repita la violencia del pasado fin de semana en Virginia.
En fotos: masiva respuesta al odio y la ultraderecha en Boston
La convocatoria de este sábado encontró una fuerte resistencia de personas que decidieron salir a expresar su rechazo al odio, así como a los grupos neonazis y supremacistas blancos. La manifestación inicial fue suspedida.
La masiva respuesta de Boston contra el racismo apaga la manifestación de la ultraderecha
La policía declaró el fin de la actividad inicial convocada por Boston Free Speech. Ahora cientos de oficiales intentan contener a las miles de personas que salieron a rechazar el odio, ante el temor de que se repita la violencia del pasado fin de semana en Virginia.
Six Flags retira la bandera confederada de sus parques en Texas
El parque temático Six Flags revirtió su decisión de remover la bandera confederada de la entrada del establecimiento.
Premier League
‘CH17’ en la Premier: ¿Delantero de referencia o cazagoles?
En la liga británica existe la distinción entre atacantes como Giroud y otros como Lacazatte, ambos del Arsenal ¿en dónde entra el mexicano?
Cruz Azul femenil estrena las ‘súper goleadas’… en contra, Pachuca las derrotó 9-1
El conjunto cementero tuvo una pésima tarde en contra de las hidalguenses que salieron airosas como visitantes.
Premier League
Arsenal salió frustrado de su visita al Stoke City con gol de Jesé
El exdelantero del Real Madrid y el PSG convirtió la única anotación de los Potters que dejaron mal parado al equipo de Arsene Wenger.
Carlos Vela provocó penal y triunfo de la Real Sociedad
El delantero mexicano entro de cambio con el equipo de San Sebastián y marco la diferencia para que el equipo blanquiazul se llevará el primer triunfo de la temporada.