Over the next few weeks, we will be presenting a three-part series outlining maternal mortality and the concern that is in the African-American/Black community regarding the racial disparities in maternal mortality. In part one, we explore what the maternal mortality rate is in America and in Georgia and the growing concern for our state and country.
Maternal mortality is defined as the number of deaths from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (excluding accidental or incidental causes) during pregnancy and childbirth or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy per 100,000 births.1 Among other developed countries, maternal mortality in the United States is climbing whereas other countries are witnessing decreasing maternal mortality rates. The U.S. ranks lowest out of all developed countries and that alone is a huge issue.
The map above outlines the maternal mortality statistics by state per 100,000 births. Along with the U.S. marking the worst maternal mortality rates among developed countries, the state of Georgia ranks the worst in the nation2. In 2018, Georgia ranked at 46.2 deaths for every 100,000 births. That is over 20% above the national average! This rate increases among different races and ethnicities, with Black women being the highest. Statistics show us that white women in Georgia are at a maternal mortality value of 43.2/100,000 births, black women are almost a third higher, at 66.6 deaths/100,000 births.
In the next two blogs, I will be discussing how social determinants such as race/ethnicity, access to resources, and neighborhood characteristics impact the quality of care for pregnant women of color. I will also be discussing how as a community we can begin to tackle the issue of maternal mortality in general and among African-American women. Stay tuned for Part 2.
(Brooke Blocker is a Senior Human Development and Family Science major at the University of Georgia. She is interning with BIRTHFIT Atlanta as part of her study program requirements. Brooke is planning to attend Nursing school with the hopes of working in women’s health).