Black women are dying in childbirth at higher rates than White women in America, and doctors blame a “complicated web” of factors, according to CNN. To be exact, the infant mortality rates of Black women were three to four times more likely.
The findings were confirmed after health professionals went over “efforts to measure and prevent maternal deaths and the racial disparities that persist” as they met at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta last week.
“Economics, social, environmental, biologic, genetic, behavioral and health care” were part of a “complex web of factors” that account for the disparity in pregnancy outcomes, according to Dr. Elizabeth Howell, an obstetrician-gynecologist and professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City who was one of the researchers studying the disparity between Black and White childbirth-related health outcomes.
Patient safety bundles could not only help close the gap, but could improve health outcomes for all women, Howell said. The bundles are “standardized protocols” that would assess each patient’s unique risk factors to improve care.
Patient safety bundles were also recommended by Dr. William Callaghan, chief of the CDC’s Maternal and Infant Health Branch. The bundles would “[address] unequal treatment” on a national level, he said. “It’s not a state-by-state solution to solving the problem of disparities,” Callaghan added, calling the racial disparity in health outcomes “the elephant in the room in the United States.”
One survivor of postpartum hemorrhage said meetings like last week’s need to include more patient voices.
“There are many advocates like myself. We have been sharing our stories for years or trying to. Yet we continue to be left out of most of these conversations,” Timoria McQueen Saba told CNN. Saba is an advocate for the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2017, which was introduced in March, but had not passed the House or the Senate.