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Black and Hispanic women are at the highest risk of dying during childbirth

 

Black and Hispanic women are the highest risk of dying in childbirth, a new study reveals.

Researchers found that these women were more likely to suffer from severe birth-related health issues, such as blood-clotting disorders and heart failure, even if they were healthy before.

The largest gap involved non-Hispanic black women, who were 70 percent more likely to suffer a serious birth problem compared to non-Hispanic white women.

Additionally, even though women of any race or ethnicity who had a health condition before giving birth also had a higher risk of severe problems after giving birth, black and Hispanic women faced two to three times the risk of a severe birth problem.

Celebrities such as Beyonce and Serena Williams have tried to shine a light on this issue by sharing the personal experiences they each faced during their pregnancyies and immediately afterwards.

The research team, from the University of Michigan, says the findings show that obstetricians need to pay special attention to their black and Hispanic patients to prevent serious health complications from occurring prior to – and after- giving birth.

Non-Hispanic black women were 70 percent more likely to suffer a serious birth problem compared to non-Hispanic white women, a study has found (file image)

Non-Hispanic black women were 70 percent more likely to suffer a serious birth problem compared to non-Hispanic white women, a study has found (file image)

Non-Hispanic black women were 70 percent more likely to suffer a serious birth problem compared to non-Hispanic white women, a study has found (file image)

For the study, the team looked at national data regarding hospital stays between 2012 and 2015 from the National Inpatient Sample compiled by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP).

HCUP is a federal index that catalogs various hospital care data, including information on in-patient stays, ambulatory surgery and services visits, and emergency department encounters.

Of the 2.5 million women who gave birth during that period, 41,000 underwent an emergency procedure or were diagnosed with a life-threatening condition.

Looking at the 10 most common types of maternal morbidity, they found that blood transfusions, used mainly in women suffering a serious hemorrhage, were the most common.

Three-quarters of the 41,000 women who had a severe birth-related emergency had a blood transfusion.

Research showed 231 of every 10,000 births among non-Hispanic black women led to one of the severe problems, in comparison with 139 of every 10,000 births among non-Hispanic white women.

The researchers also looked at rates of other conditions such as blood-clotting disorders, kidney failure, heart failure, sepsis, and eclampsia, which is when seizures occur due to elevated blood pressure.

Findings showed that 50.5 black mothers per 10,000 suffered one of these conditions, compared with 40.9 white mothers per 10,000.

Next, the team looked at health conditions that increase the risk of a dangerous delivery including asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, depression and substance use disorders.

The highest rates overall of depression and substance use disorders were among Non-Hispanic white women.

However, the risk of a white woman with depression or substance issues experiencing a severe problem during birth compared to a woman of color with depression or substance use disorders was significantly lower.

‘There was a study a couple of years ago conducted by Elizabeth Howell, an investigator at Mount Sinai, that found the majority of black women deliver in a concentration of US hospitals,’ lead author Dr Lindsay Admon, an obstetrician at Michigan Medicine’s Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, told Daily Mail Online.

‘And I think we should focus on quality of improvement programs. If we improve the quality of care at these hospitals, we can reduce adverse maternal health outcomes.’

In recent months, both Beyonce and Serena Williams have tried to bring to light the issues women of color in the US face when they give birth by penning personal essays about the medical conditions they faced during their pregnancies.

In a personal essay for Vogue’s September issue, Beyonce revealed she suffered from pre-eclampsia while pregnant with her twins Rumi and Sir.

Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage in other organs, often the kidneys.

According to a 2017 survey run by HCUP, black women were found to have rates of pre-eclampsia to be 60 percent higher in black women than white women.

In a personal essay for Vogue's September issue, Beyonce revealed she suffered from pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure, while pregnant with her twins Rumi and Sir

In a personal essay for Vogue's September issue, Beyonce revealed she suffered from pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure, while pregnant with her twins Rumi and Sir

In a personal essay for Vogue’s September issue, Beyonce revealed she suffered from pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure, while pregnant with her twins Rumi and Sir

Serena Williams also gave an interview to Vogue in which she revealed she had an emergency C-section and a post-partum pulmonary embolism. Pictured: Williams, left, with husband Alexis Ohanian and daughter Olympia

Serena Williams also gave an interview to Vogue in which she revealed she had an emergency C-section and a post-partum pulmonary embolism. Pictured: Williams, left, with husband Alexis Ohanian and daughter Olympia

Serena Williams also gave an interview to Vogue in which she revealed she had an emergency C-section and a post-partum pulmonary embolism. Pictured: Williams, left, with husband Alexis Ohanian and daughter Olympia

The only cure for the condition is delivery, which for many women indicates inducing labor or performing C-section, as occurred in Beyonce’s case. 

In a January interview with Vogue, Serena Williams revealed that she nearly died giving birth to her daughter Olympia.

The tennis star gave birth on September 1 via emergency C-section when Olympia’s heart rate became very low during the contractions.

Then, blood clots developed in Williams’s lungs – known as pulmonary embolism – and, after coughing so much due to the clots, her C-section incision burst.

A hematoma, a collection of clotted blood vessels, was discovered in her abdomen and doctors inserted a filter in her vein to prevent further clots.

Williams, who is married to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, was in the hospital for a week and bedridden for an additional six weeks until November. 

In February, the 23-time Grand Slam winner, wrote an op-ed for CNN in which she revealed that while she was lucky to have ‘an incredible medical team’, many women are not as lucky. 

The CDC reports that among US black women, there were 43.5 deaths per 100,000 live births between 2011 and 2013.

This is a stark contrast from the 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births for white women and 14.4 deaths for all other races during the same three-year period. 

I think it’s fantastic and important that two such strong high-profile women have come forward and shared their stories and it’s important we encourage women to do so,’ Dr Admon said.

‘We’re finally shedding a light on racial and ethnic disparities and if we continue to shed that light describing health status and outcomes among Hispanic and black women during birth, it will encourage a larger community of women to share their experience with families, communities and health care providers.’

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About Ankit Kumar

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