The Maternal Health Crisis

September 10, 2019 by Adagio Health

As the maternal health crisis is impacts more women across the country, the US is the only developed nation with an increasing maternal mortality rate. For every five mothers that are dying in the United States from pregnancy and childbirth, three could still be alive today if they had received better medical care according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These mortality rates are affecting minority women disproportionately as Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from childbirth compared to Non-Hispanic white women.  These trends remain true despite education level and socioeconomic status. 

Arline Geronimus, SD ’85, coined the term “weathering”, a concept of exploring how facets of social disadvantage corrodes an individual’s health. She compiled data from her advisor and correlated infant mortality by maternal age at every age unlike most other studies that categorized mothers into broad ranges like “teen” and “not-teen.”  Geronimus found that white women in their 20s were more likely to give birth to healthy babies than those in their teens; However, the opposite was true for black women, where risks of maternal and newborn health complications including death increase with age. As the beginning stages of this research became available to the public and press, many misinterpreted her results to imply that black women should have children in their teens, not considering how society functions around health implications within minority communities. 

The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness noted: “To truly make progress on improving the birth outcomes of black women and babies, we must move upstream to intentionally address root causes. If we don’t, we will continue to swim against the current and recycle the same patterns of disparity at the ultimate cost of losing the lives of black mothers and babies.” 

Adagio Health is hosting our Second Annual Transforming Women’s Health Symposium on September 24th, 2019 with a CME accredited breakout session that delves into the maternal health crisis. Healthy Start President & CEO Jada Shirriel is with the Founder and President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, Obstetrician-Gynecologist Dr. Joia Adele Crear-Perry; along with The Midwife Center Clinical Director Ann McCarthy and Allegheny County Health Department Maternal Health Expert Dannai Wilson to open an action-focused discussion on the root causes of the maternal health crisis; disparities impacting women of color and other vulnerable populations; and how healthcare providers, advocates, and members of the community can take a more active role in pursuing and advocating for better outcomes.  For more information, visit: