Jan 11, 2018

Serena Williams and Maternal Mortality

AUTHOR:Harry StruloviciSOURCE:Vox News and Stat News

In the current issue of Vogue magazine Serena Williams and her lovely daughter are seen on the cover, lying down and smiling together. As she details her harrowing experience after giving birth where she suffered a 'near miss' and almost lost her life . Maternal mortality in the United States cannot be swept away as insignificant (almost 60, 000 women have 'near misses' in US and 10X as many suffer with life-long complications from childbirth). Our country has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country in the world because of many factors, not least of which is the structural racism that exists throughout all sectors of our society, including the health care system. Sadly, black women have 3-4 times the rate of dying from pregnancy and childbirth compared with women. In fact their socioeconomic and educational status does NOT mitigate their odds of dying. They are just as likely to die as a poor and less educated black woman. Certainly, the social determinates of health, e.g., racism, discrimination, poverty, stigma, ethnicity, education, employment status all contribute to black women's higher death and complication rate. It should be noted that all women (white, hispanic, etc.) endure many of these challenges but not to the degree of black women. Serena Williams is an amazingly accomplished woman who nearly died from blood clots (pulmonary emboli) to her lungs after her Caesarean section in the hospital.She had a history of clots a priori and therefore the staff et. al should have been highly attuned and vigilant. Why was she ignored? Thankfully the beautiful cover of Vogue reveals that she survived this horrendous ordeal. The 2 articles that I have provided links to (see below) reinforce how important it is to improve health access for all women regardless of race, religion, and socioeconomic status. This is not an entitlement but a right-- it is my sincere hope that Serena Williams will advocate for every women's right to access health care so mothers can give birth without fearing for their own and newborn's life. https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/1/11/16879984/serena-williams-childbirth-scare-black-women and https://www.statnews.com/2018/01/11/racism-maternal-health-erica-garner/

Did you know?

Maternal mortality is the health indicator that shows the widest gaps between rich and poor, both between and within countries.

Source:World Health Organization, 2010

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