Maternal Disparities

“The issue of disparities in health is serious – it is a matter of life and death.  Disparities in health among different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups in the United States are real and represent a serious threat to our future as a nation.  It is time for leaders and communities to take a public health approach to eliminating disparities in health.”
David Satcher, MD, PhD and Eve J Higginbotham, MD
American Journal of Public Health, March 2008


We have seen the issue of maternal health disparities in the rising mortality rates for African American women -- After several decades of declining rates, since 1998, pregnancy related mortality in California began to rise and actually doubled in only 6 years. In 2004, there were 13.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, above the national rate of 13.1 and well above the Healthy People 2010 target of 4.3 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Pregnancy-related deaths among African-American women in California were 3 times higher than rates for Whites or Hispanics (37.6 deaths per 100,000 live births for African-Americans versus 12.0 and 11.9 for Whites and Hispanics, respectively).   In addition, when researchers examined mortality rates in African American women due to the five major complications of pregnancy, they learned that these complications did not occur at higher rates in this population but African American women were 2-3 times more likely to die from the complications than were White women in the US. (Tucker, AJPH, 2007) 

 CMQCC hosted a special discussion at its February 19, 2009 Executive Committee Meeting on this important topic. 

Invited presenters include Paula Braveman, MD, MPH, Professor of Family & Community Medicine and Director, Center on Social Disparities in Health; Michael C. Lu, MD, MPH, Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, David Geffen School of Medicine
Department of Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health, UCLA; Amani Nuru-Jeter, Ph.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley School of Public Health; and Paul Wise, MD, MPH, Professor of Child Health and Society, Stanford University. 

Please see our resources page for more information and references to current research on this topic.

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