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Black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers - ProPublica & NPR

January 5, 2018  |  ProPublica and NPR  |  Link to article

Shalon's daughter, Soleil, with her grandmother, Wanda. Shalon's photo is in the background. Photo credit: Sheila Pree Bright for ProPublica

The paragraphs below are snippets of an extensive, in-depth, and personal article that sheds light on how ingrained unconscious and conscious racism is in America's healthcare systems. We encourage readers to click through to the full article and read about Dr. Shalon Irving, an epidemiologist studying structural inequality and disparity in access in health institutions. She passed away on Jan. 28, 2017 from maternal health complications, three weeks after giving birth to her daughter, Soleil. 

"In recent years, as high rates of maternal mortality in the U.S. have alarmed researchers, one statistic has been especially concerning. According to the CDC, black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health.

Put another way, a black woman is 22 percent more likely to die from heart disease than a white woman, 71 percent more likely to perish from cervical cancer, but 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes.

In a national study of five medical complications that are common causes of maternal death and injury, black women were two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition...

Those problems are amplified by unconscious biases that are embedded throughout the medical system, affecting quality of care in stark and subtle ways. In the more than 200 stories of African-American mothers that ProPublica and NPR have collected over the past year, the feeling of being devalued and disrespected by medical providers was a constant theme."

This article originally published on ProPublica on December 7, 2017. It has been formatted for publication on Together Colorado's latest news page. Click here to read the full article.