NewsCovering Kern County


US pregnancy deaths are up among minorities according to CDC report

Posted at 10:35 PM, May 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-11 01:35:33-04

BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — A new report from the Center Disease Control reviewed pregnancy related deaths in the United States from 2011 to 2015, that showed minority women have a higher risk of death than a Caucasian woman.

The pregnancy-related deaths occurred during pregnancy, around the time of delivery, and up to one year postpartum, according to the report.

The CDC says that approximately 700 women die annually in the United States from pregnancy-related complications and the report offers methods of prevention.

Dr. Edward Allen, OBGYN Physician for Dignity Health Medical Foundation in Bakersfield, with 35 years of practice agrees with the Centers for Disease Control's report.

“Education, education, that’s what I push when I see my patients every day,” said Allen.

The report states that African American, Native and Alaskan women have a three times higher rate of pregnancy related deaths.

“African American females have higher incidents of chronic disease that leads to this problem, such as diabetes hypertension, obesity and then you look at lack of access of healthcare,” Allen added.

The CDC report states that 60% of all pregnancy-related deaths can be prevented with better health care, communication and support. Dr. Allen says early and adequate prenatal care is the way to close the mortality gap among minority mothers.

“It's our responsibility to be sensitive to patients to listen to them and that’s one of the issues that we have,” said Allen. “All too often is that, I hear complaints from patients that this doctor didn’t listen to me. If you take time to listen to the patient the patient will tell you what's wrong.”

Another report by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that “significant racial and ethnic disparities persist in women’s health and health care” and eliminating those inequalities should be a top priority.

“The key here going forward is education and listen to women, we know when something is wrong,” said Jennifer Bloomquist, co-founder for pro-choice Kern County.

“The CDC says that more than half of these deaths are preventable. For years, the hospitals and service providers blame the women for being too fat, too old and too unhealthy and that is not the case,” said Bloomquist.

Dr. Allen says another contributing factor towards this gap is finances and possible lack of proper healthcare.

“Another problem we have is that many patients don’t have insurance,” said Allen. “If they do get insurance, they get it late in pregnancy and so they start way behind because they have not taken care of the pregnancy early on.”

The CDC report adds that Alaska Native and Native American are 2.5 times more likely suffer a pregnancy related death than Caucasian women. You can read the full report here.