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Charlotte Talks: The Black Maternal Health Crisis

Office of U.S. Rep. Alma Adams

Thursday, April 16, 2020

For many, the challenges created by the coronavirus is not the first time America’s health care system has failed them. U.S. Rep. Alma Adams co-founded the Black Maternal Health Caucus to highlight the racial inequities in American health care, especially among black mothers.

Black mothers are more than three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women and twice as likely to lose an infant to premature death. The inequities do not only apply to childbirth: Black women are 22% more likely to die from heart disease than white women and 71% more likely to die from cervical cancer.

The disparities effect black women of all economic levels, as evidenced by the pregnancy complications experienced by both Serena Williams and Beyoncé. Williams acknowledged, however, that if it were not for her team of doctors and nurses at a hospital with state-of-the-art equipment,  she "wouldn’t be here today.”

Pregnancy-related deaths among all ethnic groups have only been increasing since the CDC started collecting data in 1987, but the disparities of complications and deaths between black and white women remain.

As the coronavirus lingers and hospitals are straining resources to address it, the risks of childbirth are even greater than usual. Infections and deaths during the pandemic have proven another example of inequity in health care, as rates have been disproportionately high among communities of color.

U.S. Rep. Alma Adams joins us during Black Maternal Health Week to discuss the Black Maternal Health Caucus and to address what she calls “one of the greatest public health crises of our time.”


U.S. Rep. Alma Adams12th Congressional District of North Carolina

Dr. Pam Oliver, OB/GYN physician, executive vice president of Novant Health

Jesse Steinmetz is Assistant Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.