Black Maternal Health

Black women’s risk of maternal mortality has remained higher than white women’s risk for the past six decades. 

Black Maternal Health Week is in April, founded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance to deepen the national conversation about Black maternal health in the U.S. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Black women’s maternal mortality has remained higher than white women’s risk for the past six decades. Maternal mortality is defined by the World Health Organization as “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.”
  • Black women are also more likely than white women to experience complications that are pregnancy and/or birth-related. In Oklahoma, black women account for 10% of the births statewide but make up over 22% of all maternal deaths. (Oklahoma State Department of Health).
  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black women experience pregnancy-related deaths at 3-4 times the rate of white women. A growing body of evidence indicates that stress from racism and racial discrimination influences maternal mortality and morbidity among Black women, regardless of their socio-economic, education or health status.
  • Despite advances in medical technology and increased spending on health care, maternal mortality has increased for all women in the U.S. Approximately 700 women die each year during pregnancy or delivery-related complications. (This is the equivalent of four 737 planes crashing.) Often these deaths are preventable.

ABOUT BLACK MATERNAL HEALTH WEEK

Black Maternal Health Week takes place every year from April 11 –17. The month of April is recognized in the United States as National Minority Health Month – a month-long initiative to advance health equity across the country on behalf of all racial and ethnic minorities. Additionally, we are joining dozens of global organizations who are fighting to end maternal mortality in advocating that the United Nations recognize April 11th as the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black women experience pregnancy-related deaths at 3-4 times the rate of white women. In Oklahoma, the Black maternal mortality rate is higher than that of the nation. 

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