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Study shows minority women more likely to die during or soon after childbirth
by Staff Minority Nurse Writer
A recent study hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that minority women in the United States are more likely to die during or soon after childbirth than white women.
The study looked at black, Hispanic, and Asian women, and some white women not born in the United States. These minorities accounted for 41% of all births nationwide between 1993–2006, but for 62% of pregnancy-related deaths.
Dr. Andreea Creanga, medical epidemiologist of the CDC, and her research team found that for every 100,000 babies born to white women, seven to nine mothers died from pregnancy-related complications. On the contrary, 32–35 African American women died for every 100,000 live babies. Deaths among Hispanic and Asian women were around 10 per 100,000.
A total of about 7,500 women died of complications related to pregnancy within the 14-year period. Heart problems and general cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, were the most common causes of death in childbirth for both white and black women.
Additionally, older women were most likely to die during childbirth. Eighteen white mothers ages 35 and older died for every 100,000 babies born, as did 99 black women of a similar age per 100,000—almost one death for every 1,000 babies.
Researchers used collected data on all women who died within a year after pregnancy, as well as birth records for their babies. They also conclude that some differences may be due to minority women's lack of access to good prenatal care, noting that pre-existing health problems likely contributed to their deaths as well. Some heartrelated deaths are due to genetic or dietary differences between women, but deaths related to bleeding at childbirth are preventable with medical care.
Researchers didn't have access to clinical details such as birth method and mothers' weight, both of which could affect pregnancy risks.