For Black women, pregnancy complications are linked to systemic racism

Black women are five times more likely to die due to pregnancy complications than white women, according to the latest figures.


Systemic racism, underlying health conditions, implicit bias, mothers trying not come across as the 'angry black woman' are all given as possible causes. But the reality is there isn't one definitive reason.


“I think [these numbers are] unacceptable. I think they’ve been long-standing disparities in maternal health and they’re becoming larger today in certain cities and it’s very concerning,” said Dr Elizabeth Howell, Director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Image credit Cheltenham NAACP

Unfortunately, D'Lissa Parkes was one of the mothers who died in 2015 not long after giving birth to her daughter at Lewisham Hospital. Her sisters believe a lot of what went wrong happened because she was black.


In a statement, the Chief Midwifery Officer for NHS in London said: "All London hospitals are actively reviewing the care they provide to implement the key priorities for women from Black and Asian Minority Ethnic backgrounds. This includes reviewing care pathways, carefully monitoring those at risk, quickly escalating their care and admitting them to the hospital sooner if required."

Image credit United HealthCare

It’s no secret that Black women have the highest mortality rates when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, but the health statistics are still alarming.

Several recent reports highlighted that Black women who are expecting do not receive proper medical care from physicians.


The CDC reports that roughly 50,000 women suffer from pregnancy complications, with Black women reportedly being three to four times more likely to die than white women during childbirth. According to researchers, there is no single cause for the issue as persistent poverty, lacklustre or absent healthcare and higher factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes tending to impact Black women at a higher rate.’

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