Sen. Gillibrand, city leaders address nation’s maternal mortality crisis among black women

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monday U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY) stood alongside city leaders to address the nation’s maternal mortality crisis among black women and to eliminate racial bias in maternal care.

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 700 pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. Each year among black women, many are preventable and Senator Gillibrand and Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said we need to put a spotlight on this issue.

According to the CDC, black non-Hispanic women in the United States are 2.5 times as likely to die from pregnancy-related complications as white women and the mortality rate in Monroe County is 46% higher than the national average.

“This is a crisis and result of long-standing inequities in our health system that we must address. We can’t accept the idea that black families and children losing their mothers is business as usual we have to do much more to support black women, children and their families,” Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand along with local leaders are calling on house and senate committee leaders to include $7 million to fund training programs to reduce bias in maternal health and $25 million to establish a program that delivers integrated health care services to pregnant women and new mothers that can reduce the disproportionate rate of maternal deaths among black non-Hispanic women.

“This is not 1822 this is 2022 and we have statistics that are really out of the stone age and we should be embarrassed as a country when African American women when they should be thinking about what color they’re going to paint the nursery, how they are going to send their kid off to school, what outfits they want to pick out many of them are worrying about whether or not they’re going to survive during childbirth or if their child is going to survive,” Evans said.

Executive Director of His Branches Community Health Center in the 19th Ward Mike Weston said these are the type of patients they see every day at their office and change needs to happen.

“Poor nutrition and lack of social support are all causes that result in immediate and lifelong complications in children. Children who experience low birth rates are more likely to experience complications in eating or breathing causing developmental delay,” Weston said. “This is more than 1.5 times likely to occur in Rochester than across our state.”

Gillibrand said recent research shows that the risks for black women have only grown over the past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of health care, income and education.

To read the full letter, click here.