From the New York Times:
African-American, Native American and Alaska Native women are about three times more likely to die from causes related to pregnancy, compared to white women in the United States.
By Roni Caryn Rabin, May 7, 2019
African-American, Native American and Alaska Native women die of pregnancy-related causes at a rate about three times higher than those of white women, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday. …
Maternal health among black women already has emerged as an issue in the 2020 presidential campaign. Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, have both raised the glaring racial discrepancies in maternal outcomes on the campaign trail.
“Everyone should be outraged this is happening in America,” Ms. Harris recently said on Twitter. She blamed the deaths on racial bias in the health system.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which was not involved in the C.D.C. report, recently acknowledged that racial bias within the health care system is contributing to the disproportionate number of pregnancy-related deaths among minority women.
“We are missing opportunities to identify risk factors prior to pregnancy, and there are often delays in recognizing symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum, particularly for black women,” Dr. Lisa Hollier, immediate past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in a statement.
The United States has an abysmal record on maternal health, compared with other high-income countries. Even as maternal death rates fell by more than one-third from 2000 to 2015 across the world, outcomes for American mothers worsened, according to Unicef.
Looking at the data, my guess would be that the successful federal campaign against teen pregnancies has driven up the maternal death rate, because a higher percentage of births are now to women over 35, who are several times more vulnerable than younger women.
The agency found that black women were 3.3 times more likely than white women to suffer a pregnancy-related death; Native American and Alaska Native women were 2.5 times more likely to die than white women. …
Indeed, a greater proportion of the deaths among black women occurred in the later postpartum period, between seven weeks and a year after the delivery, compared with white women, the C.D.C. found.
… African-American women have higher rates of obesity and are more often overweight, which can increase the potential for problems during pregnancy and beyond. Yet obesity has risen among all Americans, noted Dr. Elliott Main, medical director of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative.
“That’s not the driver,” he said, referring to higher mortality among black women. “It requires a different level of awareness and attention, but you shouldn’t die of obesity. You shouldn’t die of hypertension.” …
Overall, maternal deaths are rare: Some 700 deaths related to pregnancy occur each year, while there are 3.8 million births.
While 13 white women die for every 100,000 live births, the rate for Hispanic women is even lower: 11.4.
The low rate for Hispanics is finally mentioned in the 26th paragraph of the NYT article. The low rate for Asians, as reported by the CDC, is never mentioned in the entire NYT article.
This article would be less racially inflammatory if instead of using white women as the denominator, it grouped American women into High maternal mortality ethnicities (black and Native American) versus Low mortality ethnicities (Hispanic, white, and Asian). Here are the stats from the CDC for pregnancy related mortality ratio per 100,000 births
Asian/Pacific Islander 14.2
American Indian/Alaska Native 32.5
So, it’s not some kind of white racist conspiracy to kill nonwhite mothers.