Black women ‘five times more likely’ to die in pregnancy

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) says current trends show an increased rate of adverse health experiences in black, Asian and minority ethnic women.  

A spokesman for RCOG said statistics show that black women are more than five times more likely to die in pregnancy, childbirth or in the six-month postpartum period than white women.

The risk level compared to white women is increased threefold for women of mixed ethnicity and more than doubled for Asian women.

These worrying patterns are not just visible in maternity care either, but also in infant outcomes, breast and cervical cancer diagnosis and mental health support.

Black, Asian, and minority ethnic women are at an increased risk of having a pre-term birth, stillbirth, neonatal death or a baby born with low birth weight, an RCOG spokesman said.

While black women are up to twice as likely to suffer a stillbirth at all gestational ages than white women.

Data also shows that black women with breast cancer have a higher mortality rate and incidences of poor outcomes are also higher for those suffering with cervical cancer.

Dr Ranee Thakar, vice president of the RCOG, said:

‘It is essential that we investigate the root causes of these very concerning trends to ensure that all women and girls have the ability to access the same high standard of healthcare.

‘There are a number of reasons why these disparities could exist and the most effective way of examining these is to speak to the women who are affected by them on a daily basis.

‘Women should always be at the centre of all decisions and actions pertaining to their own healthcare, and any policies put in place to protect and nurture their health.’

The RCOG is calling for medical research to become more inclusive to ensure the right choices are being made and recommends that experiences need to be logged and data sets widened to encapsulate the vast breadth of the effects of racial inequalities in the UK.

This will help to pinpoint areas of most pressing concern and potential causes, allowing for the preparation of a plan of action to be commenced at the first possible opportunity.

Dr Edward Morris, president of the RCOG, said it will be working with groups across healthcare and the government to reduce the gulf and improve outcomes for women and girls.

‘We are very concerned by the worrying statistics reflecting the racial inequalities in women’s healthcare in the UK and it is a priority of mine to address this serious issue.

‘There are no good reasons for the rates of adverse outcomes for women and girls of black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and we need to pinpoint the exact causes of these disparities in order to tackle them.

‘The RCOG appreciates that it cannot eradicate these inequalities alone and is making a step towards a united front by calling on the government to join us in taking action now.

‘Women and girls are at the forefront of all the work that we do and their views and experiences will be of greater importance than ever in forcing this essential societal shift.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay


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