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  • Writer's pictureMarisa Leary

Racial Disparities Among Maternal Health and Mortality

In 2018, the maternal mortality rate in the United States was 17.4 per every 100,000 births. More specifically, we can compare maternal mortality rates among different racial and ethnic backgrounds. For non-Hispanic Black women, that number jumps to 37.3 deaths per 100,000 live births. However, for non-Hispanic white women, the maternal mortality rate reaches 14.9 for every 100,000 births. Lastly for Hispanic women, the maternal mortality rate is 11.8 for every 100,000. In 2018, the CDC reported that black women experience a maternal mortality rate up to three times higher than white women. Similarly, Black and American Indian women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. This is because many Black women have difficulty accessing reproductive health care that meets their needs, making it extremely difficult for women to plan their families, as well as improve their health outcomes. Typically, Black women have limited access to abortions, which may increase their chances of negative side affects , such as delayed care, increased costs, or lack of access to care. In a recent study in California, out of all the women enrolled in Medicaid, Black women were less likely than white women or Hispanic women to receive postpartum contraception. Postpartum contraception is used to prevent unplanned and closely spaced pregnancies the first year after giving birth. Black women that did receive postpartum contraception were less likely to receive a highly effective method. This statistic proves why Black women tend to experience higher rates of unplanned pregnancies than all other racial groups. Difficulty in accessing basic maternal needs during pregnancy leads the maternal mortality rate to significantly increase. To lower the maternal mortality rate, especially for non-Hispanic black women, companies, and policies should focus on maintaining and expanding care and counseling.

Work Cited

National Partnership for Women and Families. “Black Women's Maternal Health.” Black Women's Maternal Health:

US Department of Health Services. “NVSS - Maternal Mortality - Homepage.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 Nov. 2020,

US Department of Health Services. “Racial and Ethnic Disparities Continue in Pregnancy-Related Deaths.” Centers for Disease Control and PreventZZSion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Sept. 2019,

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