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Baby Mama Drama: The Issue of Maternal Mortality in the U.S

Most of us heard about Serena William's birthing scare in September. Complications almost cost the athlete her life. This woman is not only a star athlete at peak health and fitness, but according to Forbes 100 highest paid athletes, she is not only the highest paid female athlete, but also the only woman on the list. So you can probably imagine the kind of health care she can afford. Lets just say access is not an issue for this queen.

Many other black and brown women suffer fatal complications from childbirth at a rates that’s more often than you'd think, despite their income level. Iv'e got a fact that may make some jaws drop.... Ya'll ready for this one? 

"Black moms across the US are three and a half times more likely to die in childbirth than white Americans."

Y’all... I couldn't make this up if I tried! But these numbers are not new, and definitely aren’t a secret. So now you may be wondering .... what the hell, why?!

Ask any public health or medical student and you’ll get an array of answers. Theres a multitude of things that could contribute to these stats. But to simplify things, here are 3 major reasons that I feel are linked to such wild statistics.

  1. access

  2. income level

  3. quality of care

Access can be anything from access to a primary care physician to access to stable housing. Income level can impact quality of care and access to resources. These three factors are typically lower level for women of color and can be lead to an association with things like higher levels of stress, hypertension, and obesity .  Now we know that obesity, hypertension, and stress are not good for mama or her baby. So what do we do? 

Well thats a question the field of Public Health has been trying to answer for decades. In my opinion, the simple answer would be to provide our moms with quality care regardless of race and income. This may be 100% idealistic, but its also 100% necessary. There is no reason that in a country as developed as the United States of America, being a race other than white puts you at risk when giving birth. Scientifically and ethically, we are better than this. This is something public health workers fight for every day. The U.S healthcare system needs to show that they value all women and all mothers through affordable and accessible care. We're not quite there yet, but changes to policy, and health care systems are the start to a better future for mothers and babies of color.

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