Improving Pregnancy Outcomes for African American Women

Pregnant African American woman undergoing an ultrasound exam

National Women’s Health Week starts each year on Mother’s Day to encourage women to make their health a priority. Take these steps to live a safer and healthier life!

Most Pregnancy-Related Deaths are Preventable

Each year in the United States, about 700 women die during pregnancy or in the year after. Every pregnancy-related death is tragic, especially because most are preventable. Conditions such as weakened heart muscle, thrombotic pulmonary embolism, and high blood pressure contributed to a significantly higher proportion of pregnancy-related deaths among African American women than among white women.

Working Together to Reduce Disparities

To reduce disparities, multiple sectors need to work to address the factors contributing to these deaths.

Healthcare providers can:

  • Help patients manage chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and  obesity.
  • Communicate with patients about warning signs.
  • Use tools to flag warning signs early so women can receive timely treatment.
Pregnant african american woman

Hospitals and healthcare systems can:

  • Identify and address unconscious bias in healthcare.
  • Standardize coordination of care and response to emergencies.
  • Improve delivery of quality prenatal and postpartum care.
  • Train non-obstetric providers to consider recent pregnancy history.

States and communities can:

  • Assess and coordinate delivery hospitals for risk-appropriate care.
  • Support review of the causes behind every maternal death.

Women and their families:

  • Know and communicate about symptoms of complications.
  • Note pregnancy history any time medical care is received in the year after delivery.
CDC Activities to Prevent Maternal Mortality

To prevent pregnancy-related deaths CDC: