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How Mom’s Race Impacts Labor And Delivery Mistakes

Mother and baby

When Mothers Are Mistreated Because of Race, Babies Are at Risk of Preterm Birth and Harmful Injuries

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 700 women die from pregnancy-related complications every year. Furthermore, the same research shows when a mother is at harm during the pre and post-natal stages, the fetus or newborn is as well. Just as troublesome, however, is that pregnancy and childbirth are much more dangerous for women and babies who are not white – and not always because of the mother’s socioeconomic status.

Researchers at the Blavatnik Family Women’s Health Research Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York have found that, “Data does not suggest that any differences in treatment patterns were reflected in worse outcomes for Medicaid-covered and commercially insured mothers within the same hospital. These results indicate that pathways other than insurance are responsible for the higher risks of severe maternal morbidity among black and Latina compared with white women that were observed in our study.”

Each year, an average of 19 women die within 12 months of pregnancy in the Chicago-area, according to a 2019 report by the Chicago Department of Public Health, consistent with 2018 findings by the Illinois Department of Public Health that black women in Illinois are 6 times more likely to die of pregnancy related conditions than white moms. And black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants before their first birthday due to mostly preventable preterm birth-related issues, according to the most recent data collected by the CDC.

The Researchers Answered Questions Already Known

In the study published January 9, 2020, researchers at Mount Sinai examined four years’ worth of delivery and discharge data from hospitals in an attempt to answer two questions:

  1. Whether black and Latina women experience worse outcomes than white women who delivered at the same hospital?
  2. Does a woman’s insurance type impact her health outcome?

Ultimately, researchers found that black women had the highest rate of severe maternal morbidity, or unexpected health outcomes stemming from labor that can have significant short or long term health consequences for the mother and child.

  • 2% of black women experienced severe maternal morbidity
  • 9% of Latina woman experienced severe maternal morbidity
  • 5% of white women experienced severe maternal morbidity

The study also found that the type of medical insurance did not explain racial disparities. “In fact, women insured by Medicaid and those with commercial insurance had similar risks for severe maternal morbidity within the same hospital,” the researchers wrote in their report.

Data from the CDC back the Blavatnik Family Women’s Health Research Institute study. In 2019, the nation’s health protection agency also concluded that black women were two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. The CDC’s also found that although “most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable,” racial and ethnic disparities in such deaths have continued to persist over time.

Justice For Mother and Baby

If you suspect medical negligence due to racial disparities may have contributed to an injury or death of your unborn baby or infant after delivery, please contact Levin & Perconti toll-free at 877-374-1417 or in Chicago at (312) 332-2872 for a FREE consultation.

Source: Howell, E. A., Egorova, N. N., Janevic, T., Brodman, M., Balbierz, A., Zeitlin, J., & Hebert, P. L. (2020). Race and Ethnicity, Medical Insurance, and Within-Hospital Severe Maternal Morbidity Disparities. Obstetrics & Gynecology. Published online January 9, 2020.