While moms in the United States die during or right after childbirth at a higher rate than in any other developed country, the statistics show that it’s African-American mothers who are at the highest risk.
The gap is telling: 12 death per 100,000 live births for white women, and 40 per 100,000 for Black women, according to a report from Vox.
While the gap is growing across the United States, North Carolina has defied the trend and closed the gap entirely, going from 39 Black women per 100,000 live births, compared to 11 per 100,000 live births for white women; to 23 per 100,000 live births for both black and white women.
According to North Carolina doctors and researchers, the difference is in the fact that North Carolina has a program called Pregnancy Medical Home for low-income mothers, in which 94 percent of Medicaid doctors participate. Because of the focus on income and not race, North Carolina has been able to bring the death rate down across the board, the experts say.
Kate Berrien, the vice president of clinical programs at Community Care of North Carolina, explained to Vox that women on Medicaid in North Carolina benefit from their doctors being incentivized to screen for possible issues, connecting mothers who are at higher risks with a “pregnancy care manager” to help.
“By tackling women’s health problems before she goes into labor, we mitigate her risks,” Berrien said.
Other states have initiatives like the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, which is designed to make births safer in the state of California. They have designed toolkits that give step-by-step advice on common prenatal issues.
Either way, more states need to make strides to address these alarming maternity death statistics.