MedBrief logo

Racial disparities in maternal health outcomes

The latest MBRRACE report has brought to light the concerning racial disparities in maternity care within the UK.

The latest MBRRACE report has brought to light the concerning racial disparities in maternity care within the UK. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the issue, it is crucial to address the systemic problems that have been endangering the safety of black, Asian, and ethnic minority groups for decades.

Report highlights

Black and Asian women at a higher risk

Women from black ethnic backgrounds are four times more likely to die during childbirth compared to white women. Similarly, women from Asian ethnic backgrounds are twice as likely to die.

COVID-19’s impact

The majority of women who died from COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 were from ethnic minority groups.

Persistent gaps

Even when excluding COVID-19 maternal deaths, 10.1 women per 100,000 died during pregnancy, at the end of pregnancy, or six weeks after childbirth.

Socio-economic imbalances

Maternal mortality rates continue to be highest among women living in the most deprived areas.

Unclear causes

While the report has provided some possible reasons for such a huge racial imbalance, there is still a lot of ambiguity around the actual causes of the inequality.

Five X More is working to raise awareness and campaign for better maternal outcomes for black women. Their Black Maternity Experiences report highlighted that “black, Asian, and minority ethnic women report negative interactions with healthcare professionals more often than white women, and these adversely impact their experiences of care.”

The report also highlighted that black, Asian, and minority women have:

1. Worried about labour and delivery more than white women.

2. Not felt treated with respect and reported staff as unhelpful and rude.

3. Been denied adequate pain relief.

4. Reported poorer experiences of maternity care in general.

Underrepresentation in maternal health research

Five X More has highlighted that the main difficulty in addressing this problem is the underrepresentation of black women in maternal health research. Due to this lack of research, ethnic minorities are still receiving inadequate care.

It’s imperative that these deep-rooted issues are addressed. Efforts need to be made to ensure that black, Asian, and ethnic minority women receive high levels of care to close the racial imbalance of poor maternal outcomes.

Related posts