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Black Women Are 2 To 3 Times More Likely To Die In Pregnancy

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women are 2 to 3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. From 2007 to 2016, the annual maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births was:

  • White women: 13
  • American Indian/Alaska Native women: 30
  • Black women: 41

According to the report, Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Pregnancy-Related Deaths, racial disparity exists in the deaths of the approximately 700 women who die annually in the U.S. as a result of pregnancy or its complications. The disparities increase with age. Maternal mortality rates for black and AI/AN women older than 30 was 4 to 5 times as high as it was for white women.

Pregnant women with higher education still faced disparities. The mortality rate for black women with a college degree was 5.2 times higher than white women with a college degree. 

Causes of Maternal Mortality in the U.S.  

A pregnancy-related death is defined as the death of a woman during pregnancy or within one year of the end of pregnancy from a pregnancy complication, a chain of events initiated by pregnancy, or the aggravation of an unrelated condition by the physiologic effects of pregnancy.” 

There are a number of possible causes of pregnancy-related death, including 

Maternal Mortality Rate in the U.S. is Already High

In the richest nation in the country, it can be shocking how high the rate of maternal mortality compared to other developed countries. According to data from the World Bank, the rate of mothers dying from pregnancy-related causes in the U.S. is 19 per 100,000 births. 

By comparison, countries including Poland, Norway, and Italy only a maternal mortality rate of 2. Even countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran have lower maternal mortality rates. The U.S. has, by far, the worst maternal death rate of the developed world

Maternal mortality also varies a lot by state. Georgia had the highest maternal death rate from 2011 to 2015, with 46.2 deaths per 100,000 live births. Black women in Georgia had an even higher rate at 66.6 deaths. Louisiana has the second highest pregnancy-related death rate for mothers at 44.8, with a rate for black women at 72.6 deaths. 

California, Massachusetts, and Nevada had the lowest mortality rates in the country for mothers, at 4.5, 6.1, and 6.2 respectively. 

Baltimore, Philly, and DC Birth Injury Lawyers

Race should not be a cause for a newborn to grow up without a mother. Many pregnancy-related deaths are preventable and the healthcare system that causes these unnecessary deaths should be held accountable for their actions. If a loved one died during or after childbirth and you suspect that not everything was done to save her life, speak with a medical malpractice attorney. To discuss your situation with a member of our legal team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today. 

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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