mortality, maternal, black women, mississippi

Mississippi Black Woman Are Four Times More Likely To Die Due To Pregnancy Complications: Study

The study revealed that the alarming 80 percent of pregnancy-related deaths in Mississippi occurring since 2016 were considered medically preventable.

According to the Maternal Mortality Review Committee, there’s a maternal mortality epidemic exploding among Mississippi Black women. The Mississippi State Department of Health published the findings of an in depth study on Dec. 6. 

Although Black people make up only around 40% of the state’s population, Black women were found to be four times more likely to die due to pregnancy-related health issues and complications than white women in 2020. The shocking rates caused the organization’s leaders, Dr. Michelle Owens and Dr. Courtney Mitchell, to investigate further.

“It is imperative that this racial inequity is not only recognized, but that concerted efforts are made at the institutional, community, and state levels to reduce these disparate outcomes,” the study found.

The study defined deaths related to pregnancy as having occurred within a year of the birth and having been “initiated by pregnancy, or the aggravation of an unrelated condition by the physiologic effects of pregnancy.” 

The committee’s investigation revealed that an alarming 80% of pregnancy-related deaths in Mississippi occurring since 2016 were considered medically preventable. Maternal deaths were because “women need comprehensive primary care before, during and after pregnancy, but many people live in areas where health care services are scarce.”

Owens and Mitchell wrote, “A substantial portion of this care is being shouldered by smaller hospitals with limited resources, many of whom are facing possible closure and limiting or discontinuing the provision of obstetrical services, further increasing the burdens borne by the individuals and their communities.”

The Maternal Mortality Review Committee found that the rate of deaths in Mississippi is concerningly higher than that of the national average. While Mississippi’s pregnancy-related mortality rate was 35.2 deaths per 100,000 live births, the United State’s national average was 20.1 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019 and 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020. 

The numbers prompted a program called Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies to get involved and offer increased accessibility of care management and home visits for pregnant women and infants at risk of health problems.

Additionally, the Maternal Mortality Review Committee recommended Mississippi politicians to expand Medicaid to people who work in lower-wage jobs without health insurance, which is a policy that the current Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, has opposed. 

The Maternal Mortality Review Committee leaders proposed, “Medicaid expansion should be incorporated for rural hospitals to remain open and include access to telehealth services. There is a need for rural healthcare facilities to provide higher levels of critical care, recruit and retain adequate providers, and have access to life-saving equipment, especially in the most vulnerable areas of the state.”

The Maternal Mortality Review Committee includes nurses, physicians, doctors, and public health experts and was formed in 2017.

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