UAMS to hold panel discussion on Black maternal mortality

UAMS to hold panel discussion on Black maternal mortality

BCN Staff – March 19, 2021 – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has partnered with the Little Rock (AR) Chapter of The Links, Inc. and the National Healthy Start Association to host virtual viewings and community discussion on Black maternal mortality rates and the short film Toxic: A Black Woman’s Story.

The film follows Nina, a pregnant Black woman navigating her career, marriage and motherhood while dealing with race-related stress. Currently, Black women in the United States are three to four times more likely to die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth than white women are.

The first one-hour small group Zoom session took place on March 16. The second virtual session will be held on March 29 at 6 p.m. During the sessions, participants will view the 20-minute film and engage in a discussion focused on health equity, and steps community members can take to lower the Black maternal mortality rate.

The community sessions are part of a smaller discussion series leading to a distinguished panel discussion on March 30 at 5 p.m. Panelists include Dr. Haywood Brown of the University of South Florida Health; Dr. Veronica Gillespie of Ochsner Health in Louisiana; Dr. William Greenfield of the UAMS Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; and Deborah Frazier, RN, of the National Healthy Start Association.

The Arkansas panel comes after several national studies have highlighted the shocking discrepancies involving childbirth complications involving women of color, especially Black women. For example, according to data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) published in May 2021, Black women under the age of 24 are more likely to experience severe childbirth complications than white women over the age of 35 – an age group usually considered high risk. That same data shows the rates of childbirth complications have been increasing for women of color. In the last two years, the rate of Hispanic women with severe childbirth complications increased 19%.

“There is an urgent maternal health crisis in our country,” said Kim Keck, president and CEO of BCBSA. “It is unconscionable that women of color face a greater risk of childbirth complications compared to white women. We must confront health disparities across the board to change the trajectory.”

The recent study examines the rate of childbirth complications as measured by the CDC’s Severe Maternal Morbidity Measure (SMM)—21 different adverse events or unexpected outcomes from labor and delivery with significant short- or long-term consequences to a woman’s health, and in some cases, may lead to death.

SMM rates are 63% higher for women in majority Black communities and 32% higher for women in majority Hispanic communities when compared to majority white communities. To learn more, read that BCN story here.

To sign up for the UAMS community sessions, click here. To sign up for the March 30 distinguished panel discussion, click here.

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