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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

As Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024   

While Black Maternal Health Week is wrapping up, health disparities for pregnant Black women continues to be an issue.

From April 11-17 this year, the high death rate of Black mothers is in the spotlight. Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts.

Dr. Patricia Egwuatu, a family practice physician at Kaiser Permanente in Seattle, said racism is at the root of the disparities, which create barriers to health care access. She pointed out lack of access can lead to problems during pregnancy that are preventable or treatable.

"They may exist prior to pregnancy and then it gets worse during pregnancy if it's not managed as part of that maternity care," Egwuatu emphasized. "There are more pregnant women that have chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease that are amplified during pregnancy."

The White House released a proclamation recognizing Black Maternal Health Week. The Biden administration began recognizing the week in 2021.

Egwuatu noted there are some warning signs any pregnant woman should be aware of and check in with their physician if they develop.

"You might get some changes in your vision that is not your normal. So, like, fuzziness, you can't see as well, or an excruciating headache," Egwuatu outlined. "You could also develop new swelling in your lower extremities that's making it difficult to get around or even new shortness of breath."

Egwuatu stressed physicians also need to recognize the role of racism in medicine. She argued continuous medical education is important for learning how to confront biases, and it is important for doctors to understand how they can provide people with resources.

"Asking the questions about personal barriers," Egwuatu suggested. "Does a patient have issues with getting to work, child care, transportation? What's their education, what's their cultural background and language? And do they even have a cell phone so we can connect with them?"

Disclosure: Kaiser Health Plan of Washington Project contributes to our fund for reporting on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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