Improving Black Maternal Health Outcomes: A Vital Priority
Black women in the United States are three to four times more likely to experience pregnancy-related complications and deaths than their white counterparts. This disturbing trend results from various factors, including systemic racism, inadequate access to healthcare, and socioeconomic disparities. The good news is that steps can be taken to improve the health outcomes of Black mothers. Here are some strategies that can make a difference:
Increase access to quality prenatal care: Prenatal care is critical for promoting healthy pregnancies and reducing the risk of complications. However, Black women often face significant barriers to accessing this care, such as lack of transportation, insurance coverage, or availability of nearby health facilities. Expanding access to prenatal care through outreach programs, telehealth services, and mobile clinics can help close this gap.
Address implicit bias in healthcare: Studies have shown that Black women often experience discrimination and prejudice in healthcare settings, leading to inadequate or delayed treatment. Healthcare providers must receive training to recognize and address implicit biases that may affect their care. They must also work to foster trusting relationships with their patients and involve them in decision-making about their healthcare.
Improve social determinants of health: Black women are more likely to experience poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, and other social determinants of health that increase the risk of poor maternal outcomes. Addressing these social factors, such as improving access to affordable housing, nutritious food, and job opportunities, can help promote healthy pregnancies and births.
Increase awareness and advocacy: Greater public awareness of the disparities in Black maternal health outcomes can help drive policy changes and improve funding for programs that support Black mothers. Advocacy efforts, such as community organizing, policy lobbying, and media campaigns, can amplify the voices of Black women and raise awareness of their unique health needs.
Improving Black maternal health outcomes is a matter of social justice and a public health imperative. By addressing the root causes of these disparities, we can help ensure that every mother, regardless of race or ethnicity, has the best possible chance for a healthy pregnancy and birth.
Braveman, P., Dominguez, T. P., Burke, W., Dolan, S. M., Stevenson, D. K., Jackson, F. M., Collins, J. W., Driscoll, D. A., Haley, T., Acker, J., Shaw, G. M., McCabe, E. R., Hay, W. W., Thornburg, K., Acevedo-Garcia, D., Cordero, J. F., Wise, P. H., Legaz, G., Rashied-Henry, K., … Waddell, L. (2021). Explaining the black-white disparity in preterm birth: A consensus statement from a multi-disciplinary scientific workgroup convened by the March of Dimes. Frontiers in Reproductive Health, 3. https://doi.org/10.3389/frph.2021.684207