NEW ORLEANS — While controversial, Senator Bill Cassidy's comments are shining a light on the high death rate among pregnant black women. Health experts are calling it a serious crisis, not just nationally but here locally as well.
The stats are alarming. Three black women will die during pregnancy for every white woman who passes away during pregnancy.
For health experts, like LSU Health's Chief of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Dr. Robert Maupin Junior, changes are necessary.
"Unfortunately, women of color do not have the same experiences in our health systems other women benefit from," he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2020 Maternal Mortality Rate for non-hispanic black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births. In Louisiana, that number is higher, at about 58 deaths.
"It's absolutely an area where we need to see improvements," said Maupin.
It's believed a lack of resources, affordable medical care, and discrimination within the health care system all contribute to the high death rate. Turning those numbers around, Maupin says, falls on the entire community.
"We need to see improvements in access to care," he suggested. "We need to see a wider array of resources in terms of medical expertise available for women during pregnancy."
And with about half of the deaths happening after delivery, postpartum care needs to be strengthened.
"We need individuals who follow-up on mothers," he said. "We need to ensure they're getting back into care in a timely fashion, we need to make sure the care that's received is culturally competent and it's addressing the needs of the patients once they deliver."
While some progress has been made, Maupin says more is needed. That way every mother has a chance to have a healthy outcome.
Maupin says it's also not okay for a system to not hear mothers or see the risks. So it's more important than ever for a pregnant mom to let their healthcare provider know of any issues or concerns they may have.