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Juneteenth -- Black Maternal Mortality on an Olympic Scale -- June 19, 2023

There have been trillions of social media posts, but not many are as stunning and chilling as the two above. Though the U.S. spends more for medical care per person, on average, than any other industrialized country, its maternal mortality and childbirth complications rates are dramatically higher. Those rates are strikingly worse for African American women, as echoed anecdotally in the experience of some of the world's greatest athletes of the past decade, who happen to be Black American women.

The charts above vividly portray the shape of the data. A 2020 CDC report provided material from which the chart on the left is derived, and the comparable 2021 report included the chart on the right, which illustrates the horrifying fact that maternal mortality for all U.S. racial groups was INCREASING annually at a greater-than-linear rate from 2018 to 2021. The 2021 rate of 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births for Non-Hispanic Black American women credibly identifies maternal health as an unmet societal crisis.

Tori Bowie, a multiply-medaled Olympic track and field champion, once called the fastest woman in the world, passed away this month at the age of 32, alone at home, during her eighth month of pregnancy. It was determined that pregnancy complications of eclampsia and respiratory distress seemed causative. Her gold medal teammates Allyson Felix and Tianna (Bartoletta) Madison Tashelle had narrowly escaped death during emergency premature births at 32 and 26 weeks. Many in response are seeking to arouse increased and urgent attention within the healthcare communities about the devastating effects of pregnancy complications, and their disparate impacts, on society.

Obstetrician/gynecologist Sharan Abdul-Rahman, MD MBA NCMP delivered an alarming and thought-provoking presentation at the June 2022 P-POD Conference about maternal mortality and the need to trace and identify its causes, and to devote public health resources effectively toward its prevention. She will present at P-POD for the 3rd time in Newark NJ on Sept. 30 - Oct. 2, about "Major Threats to Women's Health, 3rd Annual Look", and she will also be part of the Women's Health Empowerment round table.


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