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RACIAL DISPARITIES IN MATERNITY CARE: MATERNITY-RELATED OUTCOMES IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

Racial and ethnic disparities have a strong influence on pregnancy-related deaths, and this impact can be observed across the State of Michigan. For Black, American Indian, and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) women, pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births were four to five times higher than they were for White women. This is one of the widest racial disparities in women’s health. Black infants also have the highest infant mortality rate of any ethnic group in the United States. In fact, during 2017, Michigan’s infant mortality rate (6.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births) was higher than the nation’s infant mortality rate (5.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births). It is important for all mothers to be informed about these circumstances so that they can prioritize the health and safety of their babies.

During 2018, the U.S. maternal mortality rate increased significantly to 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, despite the fact that over half of these deaths were preventable. What is even more startling is that from 2011 to 2015, Black women living in Michigan were three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes. There is no clear explanation for why Black women have the highest maternal mortality rates, but perhaps this occurrence can be linked to a combination of institutional racism, implicit bias, and a limited access to quality prenatal care.

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