Monday, May 21, 2001

Minorities at greater risk to die in pregnancy




By Erin McClam
The Associated Press

        American Indian, Asian and Hispanic women are much more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white women, government research shows.

        The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the report issued last week — the first to examine pregnancy death risks for the three smaller demographic groups — highlights a gap in quality of prenatal care given to immigrant women.

        “We need to look at the experience of immigrant women in pregnancy,” said Sara Whitehead, a CDC epidemiologist. “Once we can understand the picture better, we'll have concrete suggestions to make.”

        Black women still have the highest such risk of any racial or ethnic group — almost 30 women die per 100,000 live births.

        American Indians and Alaska natives die from pregnancy complications at a rate of 12.2 per 100,000, the CDC said. The rate is 11.3 for Asians and Pacific Islanders and 10.3 for Hispanic women.

        The rate for white women is 7.3.

        For Hispanic and Asian women, the risk was much higher for those born outside the United States. Ms. Whitehead said the gap is likely related to factors from prenatal care access to language and cultural barriers.

        The CDC's study covered 1991 to 1997, the latest year for which statistics are available. It included deaths from complications during pregnancy and deaths in the first year after childbirth that could be traced to problems with the pregnancy.

        The Census Bureau projects that one in four U.S. women will belong to one of the three groups — Hispanic, American Indian or Asian/Pacific Islander — in 2025. The census classifies Hispanic as an ethnic category and the other two as racial.

        CDC guidelines on safe motherhood: www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/drh

       



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