Black Women More Likely Than White Women To Die From Childbirth, Study Finds
While black women are no more likely than white women to develop complications during pregnancy, they are more likely than white women to die from such complications, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, Reuters Health reports. For the study, Myra Tucker, a physician at CDC, and colleagues based their findings on federal hospital discharge records and other sources from between 1988 and 1999 (Reuters Health, 12/29/06). Researchers calculated prevalence and case-related fatality rates for preeclampsia, eclampsia, abruptio placentae, placenta previa and postpartum hemorrhage -- which together account for 26% of all pregnancy-related deaths. The fatality rates among black women with the conditions were two to three times higher than that of white women, the report finds (United Press International, 12/29/06). For instance, for every 100,000 women who developed preeclampsia, about 27 white women died, compared with 73 black women. For every 100,000 women developing postpartum hemorrhage, 21 white women died, compared with 68 black women. The study did not look at the women's health and background information, and reasons for the disparity remain unclear, Reuters Health reports. However, researchers noted that general health and access to quality health care is likely to be a contributor. In addition, black women are more likely to have certain health conditions -- such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity -- that increase health risks during pregnancy. A "complex interaction of biological and health services factors must be untangled" in order to determine reasons behind the disparity, researchers said (Reuters Health, 12/29/06).
An abstract of the study is available online.