Black Maternal Health Caucus
Congresswomen Alma Adams and Lauren Underwood launched the Black Maternal Health Caucus to address one of the most urgent crises in the United States today: maternal mortality rates in America are the worst in the developed world, with 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths in America are preventable. For every woman who dies, 70 experience “near misses”: cases of severe maternal morbidity that lead to significant short- or long-term consequences to a woman’s health.
While maternal mortality rates fell 44 percent around the world from 1990-2015, maternal mortality in the United States increased by 16.7 percent, making the United States the only developed country with a rising maternal mortality rate. In fact, the only countries with rising maternal death rates are the United States, Afghanistan, and Sudan.
As alarming as these statistics are overall, the situation is even more dire for Black women, who are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications. Black women are also twice as likely to lose an infant to premature death. The causes are complex and include coverage gaps, social determinants of health, and other factors, but racism is a driving force: even a Black woman with a college degree is more likely to die from giving birth than a white woman without a high school diploma.