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The Black Maternal Mortality Crisis and Why it Remains an Issue
The Black Maternal Mortality Crisis and Why it Remains an Issue

The Black Maternal Mortality Crisis and Why it Remains an Issue

The U.S. has the worst maternal mortality rate of high-income countries globally, and the numbers have only grown. According to a new study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association – maternal death rates remain the highest among Black women, and those high rates have more than doubled over the last twenty years. When compared to white women, Black women are more than twice as likely to experience severe pregnancy-related complications, and nearly three times as likely to die. And that increased rate of death has remained about the same since the U.S. began tracking maternal mortality rates nationally — in the 1930s. We trace the roots of these health disparities back to the 18th century to examine how racism influenced science and medicine - and contributed to medical stereotypes about Black people that still exist today. And NPR's Scott Detrow speaks with Karen Sheffield-Abdullah, a nurse midwife and professor of nursing at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, about how to improve maternal health outcomes for Black women. In participating regions, you'll also hear a local news segment to help you make sense of what's going on in your community. Email us at considerthis@npr.org.

 

The U.S. has the worst maternal mortality rate of high-income countries globally, and the numbers have only grown.

According to a new study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association – maternal death rates remain the highest among Black women, and those high rates have more than doubled over the last twenty years.

When compared to white women, Black women are more than twice as likely to experience severe pregnancy-related complications, and nearly three times as likely to die. And that increased rate of death has remained about the same since the U.S. began tracking maternal mortality rates nationally — in the 1930s.

We trace the roots of these health disparities back to the 18th century to examine how racism influenced science and medicine - and contributed to medical stereotypes about Black people that still exist today.

And NPR's Scott Detrow speaks with Karen Sheffield-Abdullah, a nurse midwife and professor of nursing at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, about how to improve maternal health outcomes for Black women.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment to help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

Email us at considerthis@npr.org.

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