Black women in the United States are more likely to experience preventable death than white women, a problem that has been recognized for many years (National Partnership, 2018). Though causes of preventable death include smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity, another major cause of preventable death is inadequate maternal healthcare. Black women in the United States are more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than women in any other racial group. They are up to five times more likely, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Petersen et al., 2019). If the various reports are accurate, then the US is ranked 55th in the world for maternal mortality. What could be causing these patient outcomes? Unfortunately, many intertwining medical and socioeconomic factors contribute to the problem. This essay will attempt to discuss these issues.
A few of the leading direct causes of maternal death in the United States are hemorrhage, blood clots, preeclampsia, and stroke. Statistics show that Black women are at higher risk of experiencing these complications. For example, postpartum bleeding can be caused by fibroids, which are benign tumors that grow in the uterus and interfere with the uterus’s ability to contract after birth. Black women are three times more likely to develop fibroids than white women, which grow more quickly and at younger ages than white women (National Partnership, 2018). Another example is preeclampsia. Preeclampsia causes high blood pressure in pregnancy, and if left untreated, can cause seizures and ultimately harm to mother and child. With early intervention, these conditions can be controlled, and further complications such as cardiac arrest, acute respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolism, congestive heart failure, and mechanical ventilation are prevented (National Partnership, 2018). However, access to treatment tends to be more difficult to obtain for African American women, leading to higher incidences of these complications (Shahul et al., 2015).
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