The maternal health crisis has disproportionately impacted Black women and Morehouse School of Medicine is putting the focus on reversing this alarming trend through the creation of a new research effort. The Atlanta-based institution recently announced the launch of an initiative centered on exploring the origins of racial health inequities and their impact on the pregnancy journeys of Black women.
As part of the effort being led by MSM’s Center for Maternal Health Equity, which was established in 2019, African American mothers in Louisiana, Georgia, the District of Columbia and New Jersey—which have the highest rates of Black maternal mortality—will candidly share their experiences surrounding Maternal Near Misses (MNM); an occurrence when a woman nearly loses her life during her pregnancy, childbirth or after the termination of a pregnancy. Researchers will also delve into how the maternal health crisis has impacted women who are incarcerated.
Dr. Natalie Hernandez, who serves as an assistant professor and interim director for the Center for Maternal Health Equity at Morehouse School of Medicine, says the research project is designed to amplify the voices of Black women and bring attention to the alarming crisis. “Projects such as Near Miss and the work of the Center for Maternal Health Equity will educate the public about the issue and help mothers and their babies thrive through healthy pregnancies and safe birthing experiences,” she said in a statement. “The goal of this project is to lift up and center Black and other women of color to share their stories to help us identify ways to help. The information will help educate women and those who care for them and support them about the urgent warning signs of pregnancy-related complications. We also plan to submit their stories to the National Library of Medicine, to ensure these women’s voices will not only be heard, but never forgotten.” The research project is being backed by Optum, the state of Georgia and the nonprofit organization Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere.
Efforts like the one being led by Morehouse School of Medicine are needed. March of Dimes reported Black mothers are three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications compared to white mothers.