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Black Moms and the Infant Mortality Crisis in America

The facts are Alarming!!!

There is, unfortunately, an indisputable truth in America: that black mothers, and their babies, die at a staggering rate during childbirth.When compared to their white counterparts, even across class lines, the difference is shocking.

Even during their prenatal appointments, black women are treated unbelievably poorly. Their concerns are ignored and minimized by doctors; medical staff treat them rudely; not to mention the institutionalized, systemic racism that black people in general endure throughout American society, which, for black women, is compounded by experiences of sexism.

Simone Landrum’s story

One of the most recent full-fledged investigations into the crisis of American infant mortality rates was the New York Times Magazine cover story, “Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-Or-Death Crisis written by journalist Linda Villarosa (a black mother herself).

The feature article, which came out in April of 2018, detailed both the cumulative research which has proven that the crisis exists, and also followed the personal journey of a Simone Landrum, a black mother who suffered the tragic experience of delivering a stillborn baby due to medical complications that were arguably quite preventable.

Despite advocating for herself on multiple occasions to her doctor, telling him of her severe symptoms, such as intense swelling, strong headaches, and sensitivity to light, her doctor ignored her pleas for help, instead telling her to calm down and simply take some Tylenol. After Landrum later tracked down her medical file, it also revealed that the same office had measured her blood pressure, which indicated an alarmingly high reading, for which no action was taken.

This negligence led to Landrum eventually losing her baby due to complications related to her extremely high blood pressure. The article then follows Landrum’s journey of becoming pregnant again-this time, supported by a doula, who helped her both process her grief and move forward towards delivering a healthy baby boy.

The bigger picture in America

Unfortunately, Simone Landrum’s story is onlyone of many. Countless studies have proven the fact that black mothers are treated substantially worse than white mothers during their pregnancies.

Villarosa’s article references several shocking statistics, including:

 

  • “In 1960, the United States was ranked 12th among developed countries in infant mortality. Since then, with its rate largely driven by the deaths of black babies, the United States has fallen behind and now ranks 32nd out of the 35 wealthiest nations.”
  • “Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants – 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data.”

 

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