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The March of Dimes released their 2022 report on the state of maternity care in the U.S for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month yesterday.
Titled “Nowhere to Go: Maternity Care Deserts Across the U.S.,” the report spotlights places in the country where maternity care is disregarded. According to the March of Dimes, a nonprofit that focuses on the health of mothers and their infants, almost seven million women live in places with little or no access to maternal help as 36% of U.S. counties have no birth centers.
In these areas, members of the Native American and Black communities are affected the most; the report found that one in four Native American infants and one in six Black infants are born in a place that has issues with offering help to mothers and children both before and after birth.
“Our 2022 report confirms lack of access to care is one of the biggest barriers to safe, healthy pregnancies and is especially impacting rural areas and communities of color where families face economic strains in finding care,” said the Senior Vice President, Dr. Zsakeba Henderson, in a statement.
As the nonprofit gathers more information on the state of maternity care in the country, the March of Dimes is committed to solving key issues. Along with their recent initiative which focuses on investing in companies addressing maternal health struggles, the nonprofit’s Collective Impact initiatives work on helping members from BIPOC communities who are disadvantaged when it comes to maternal health care. As of now, the March of Dimes has worked alongside 219 organizations across nine communities to help 3,100 people with their struggles.
“While we’ve seen a slight increase in obstetric providers nationwide, we continue seeing a troubling decrease in providers serving rural areas,” said Dr. Henderson. “In fact, only seven percent of obstetric providers serve rural areas and, with more than 500,000 babies born to women living in these areas, families in rural areas are at higher risk for poor outcomes.”
Overall, Black mothers are among the women that are most affected by lack of maternal care and are most often linked to pregnancy-related complications.
According to a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, they’re three times more likely than white women to pass away from issues while pregnant. In a study conducted by the CDC, researchers looked closely at the rate and concluded that 60% of the 232 pregnancy-related deaths that they evaluated could have been prevented.
Along with nonprofits like the March of Dimes, the White House has also addressed these statistics and previously announced initiatives as part of plans, such as the Black Maternal Health “Momnibus” Act and the American Rescue Plan, to help address maternal issues faced by Black mothers.
“The inequities that Black mothers face are not isolated incidents but, rather, the byproduct of systemic racism in our society that has festered for far too long,” said President Biden in a proclamation.
“To root it out, and improve health outcomes, we must address a broad range of areas where unequal access persists along racial lines — including access to health care, adequate nutrition and housing, toxin-free environments, high-paying job sectors that provide paid leave, and workplaces free from harassment and discrimination.”