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NC Congresswoman Recognizes Black Maternal Health Week

Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., pictured here with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced legislation last week to recognize Black Maternal Health Week. (Rep. Alma Adams)
Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., pictured here with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced legislation last week to recognize Black Maternal Health Week. (Rep. Alma Adams)
April 16, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. – Black women are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women. It's just one startling statistic that has prompted the creation of the nation's first "Black Maternal Health Week," which runs through this Tuesday.

A group known as the Black Mamas Matter Alliance has launched a nationwide campaign to help address disparities in health care, resources and socioeconomic factors.

OB-GYN and fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health Dr. Jamila Perritt, cites examples such as lack of access to prenatal care in predominantly black communities, and a lack of job and child-care flexibility to attend doctor's appointments.

"Black women often bare the brunt of these disparities," she says. "What we know is that it's not race, in and of itself, that makes a difference. It's structural and institutional and historical racism that has the impact."

Late last week, North Carolina Congresswoman Alma Adams and Sen. Kamala Harris of California, both Democrats, introduced legislation to recognize the inaugural Black Maternal Health Week. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, black infants die at a rate more than twice as high as white infants.

Perritt says some of the institutional racism problems are hard to pinpoint and address within the medical profession.

"When we talk about quality of care, we know that health-care professionals are more likely to make inaccurate assumptions about the ability of black women to utilize health information," she explains. "And this reduces the quality of care black women receive and puts our lives and health at risk."

Tennis star Serena Williams is speaking publicly about her experience with having her daughter and the medical complications that resulted. In published reports, she had to advocate for a CT scan to determine she had blood clots as a result of delivery.

Black women are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women. It's just one startling statistic that has prompted the creation of the nation's first "Black Maternal Health Week," which runs through this Tuesday. Stephanie Carson reports.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC