The United States is the only industrialized nation where the maternal mortality rate is increasing. Black and Native patients are four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications compared to white patients. Transgender men report discrimination and insufficient care when pregnant. And 60% of these deaths are preventable. Researchers directly attribute these worsening trends to a few factors—insufficient access to care, miseducation on the warning signs of complications, and missed or delayed diagnoses.
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Moreover, the underlying root causes of access and quality errors are structural inequities and deprioritized maternal care. For example, significant research and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists acknowledge that implicit provider bias can result in under-treatment and exacerbate access challenges in Black communities. Further, care and coverage are primarily designed to ensure positive fetal outcomes, rather than maternal outcomes. For some communities with severe infant mortality rates, maternal mortality rates are even worse. Maternal care and Medicaid coverage often drops off post-delivery, despite the fact that one-third of deaths occur in the "fourth trimester," or the first three months after delivery.
This complex problem requires collaborative solutions. Here are four ways to get started:
Are you using these principles at your organization? We'd love to learn more! Reach out to Darby Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your efforts.
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