Black Maternal Mortality on Rise in NY

April 28, 2011  |  

(Amsterdam News) — New York City is one of the most fatal cities in the United States for a woman to have a baby.  That’s the indication from the most recent data on maternal mortality here, which show Black women are nearly eight times more likely to die during pregnancy or right after childbirth than white mothers.  In 2008, Black women in New York City experienced 79 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 10 white maternal deaths per 100,000 live births and a national rate of 13 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, according to the latest data available.

The rate of maternal deaths among Black women in New York City has increased annually since 2004, when the city reached a low of 44 Black maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. That’s all according to vital statistics released by the city in January.  “If I were mayor, I’d be saying, ‘This is a priority,’” said Maureen P. Corry, executive director of Childbirth Connection, a New York-based agency working to improve maternal health through research, advocacy and policy. “This needs urgent attention. What is happening to women in our city?”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg began the year with the upbeat news that the average New Yorker’s life span had increased by five months to 79.4 years, a historic high. At the same time, the city extolled the success of city agencies in reducing smoking and infant mortality, helping to make New York one of the healthiest cities in the United States. While not specifically mentioning mothers, Bloomberg did acknowledge that the need to reduce preventable deaths and health disparities in the city persists.

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