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Child birth death rates remain high for African-American women

“We're losing mothers at such an alarming rate"
Posted at 6:09 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 18:09:33-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world and it's much higher for African-American mothers.

7 Eyewitness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley finds out how racial disparities are leading to maternal mortality.

“African-American mothers – in the nation - die at a three to four times greater rate than our Caucasian sisters do,” said Diann Holt, director, Baby Café on Buffalo’s east side.

Baby Café provides moms with important birth planning information.

“We're losing mothers at such an alarming rate – that it bothers me – it truly does bother me,” Holt declared.

Governor Cuomo has created a new maternal mortality review board. This comes after a task force made recommendations, which Holt participated in and tells us societal issues put African-American mothers at a greater risk of dying in child birth.

“That they were ignored – that no one listened to them – that the told the doctor certain things and the doctor totally ignored what they had to say or they were totally dismissed or they were talked down to or they were disrespected or they were told they had to do things that they didn't want to do and I’m like wow – are you serious – the scary part is yes – they were serious,” explained Holt.

Holt says some moms “don't trust” their health care providers. But others say it is also a cultural issue for those living in poverty.

“You're looking at the data year after year and things don't change, actually they get worse in some cases,” remarked Dr. Raul Vasquez.

Vasquez leads Urban Family Practice on Niagara Street. He says black and brown women are in need of preventative help.

“If they have chronic disease – we have a lot of diabetes – we have a lot of hypertension - how do we get them to eat better – how do we get them to take their medicines – you know make them more focused. If your child is getting bigger during the prenatal visit, you're probably going to have a complication of a C-section if we don't do x, y and z,” Vazquez said.

Vazquez says it's time to create a so-called 'health risk score card' and figure out who needs more help and who doesn't and stop treating everyone the same.