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Black Mothers Die in Childbirth 2.5 Times More Often Than White Women

  • September 9, 2020
  • KBA Attorneys
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Recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics

USA Today reported the the National Center for Health Statistics released data earlier this year showing Black women are dying in childbirth 2½ times more often than white women. Specifically, 37.1 vs 14.7 deaths per 100,000 live births. Presented a different way, the reporters noted that “[d]espite the fact that Black women make up about 13% of the population of American women, they die in numbers not far behind white women, who make up 60%.”

This is an issue close to home at KBA. Our lawyers have represented families in negligence actions against doctors, or medical malpractice. We focus particularly on birth injuries, including cerebral palsy. KBA’s attorneys also handle wrongful death lawsuits. The USA Today journalists reported further that “[a]bout 700 women die from pregnancy-related complications in the U.S. every year, and 60 percent of those are preventable.  And infants born to African American mothers are dying at twice the rate as infants born to non-Hispanic white mothers, according to the CDC.”

Cover-ups and systemic racism are alleged to be a part of the problem

To understand why something is happening, we analyze data. When we evaluate data, we look at various factors. Researchers examined several variables. Jamille Fields Allsbrook, director of Women’s Health and Rights at the Washington D.C.-based Center for American Progress explained that “[s]ocioeconomic indicators, such as education and income level, do not make a difference . . . . pointing to a CDC report that found that Black women with at least a college degree were still 5.2 times more likely to die than their white counterparts.”

Unfortunately, “Hospitals blame moms when childbirth goes wrong. Secret data suggest it’s not that simple.”

Until legislation and societal changes take effect, lawsuits remain a powerful option for survivors and families left behind   

Congress is trying to pass laws to address the problem. The USA Today journalists reported that Black lawmakers, including VP Candidate Senator Kamala Harris, introduced bills to address these issues. One such bill is the Black Maternal Health Momnibus. Representative Lauren Underwood is one of the architects. She is a registered nurse who serves as the U.S. Representative for Illinois’s 14th congressional district.

It proposes investments into housing, transportation, and nutrition. It provides a grant program for training on bias, racism, and discrimination in maternity care. Additionally, it seeks diversification of birthing care workforce and better data collection to understand the crisis and inform solutions. In the meanwhile, lawsuits remain a way for families to seek justice.

KBA litigates against healthcare facilities around the country 

KBA’s attorneys practice in Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, DC. We partner with attorneys in North Carolina, Iowa, New York, and most other states around the country. KBA fights for survivors and are here to help.