A Call to Action on Racial Disparities in NYC’s Maternal Health

Bridget Coila

Bridget Coila

By Hannah Searing, Deborah L. Kaplan and George L. Askew


Each year in New York City, approximately 30 women die of causes related to pregnancy, with the largest burden of deaths falling on women of color. A 2016 Lancet series on maternal health put this problem in shocking perspective: The risk for Black women in New York City of dying in childbirth is double that of women living in some developing countries in Southeast Asia.

In an effort to better understand and effectively reduce maternal deaths, we at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) decided to dig deeper and determine how many women in New York City are affected by severe maternal morbidity (SMM), or life threatening complications during childbirth including heavy bleeding, blood clots, kidney failure, stroke and heart attack.

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