Heartbreaking new research has been released that says African American babies have a higher likelihood of being stillborn than any other race.
Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London looked at thirteen separate studies of stillbirth conducted in the US, UK, Denmark, and Norway. Specifically, it considered 15,124,027 pregnancies, 17,830 stillbirths, and 2,368 newborn fatalities. Professor Shakila Thangaratinam, the lead researcher in the study, explained, “[This is] the largest study of its kind, and finally provides precise estimates of potential risks of stillbirth”.
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According to their results, pregnant black women are twice as likely to experience stillbirth that pregnant white women. While the researchers acknowledged that the reasons for stillbirth are vast and will vary, they did find that institutional racism is the main reason such statistics are so startlingly high.
“Low educational and socioeconomic status, reduced access to antenatal care, and increased rates of fetal growth restriction […] at all gestational ages in black women compared to white women” were given as reasons as to why pregnant black women carry such a greater risk for pregnancies complications and stillbirth.
Unfortunately, black women are less likely to receive prenatal care in comparison to their white counterparts. But this goes beyond pregnancy. In fact, black patients in general are less likely to receive proper health care and treatment. A recent study conducted in the US, for instance, found that black patients are less likely to be offered pain medication versus white patients.
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“This study unfortunately tells us what we already know – black patients are improperly treated for pain and that is mostly because of their skin color,” said Keisha Ray, a postdoctoral fellow with the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, who participated in the research.
Tennis superstar and mom-of-one Serena Williams has been vocal about the questionable care she received while expecting her daughter Alexis. During her delivery, she told her doctor she needed a CT scan not an ultrasound- but her doctor didn’t listen.
"I told you, I need a CT scan and a heparin drip,” Serena opened up to Vogue. Once the medical staff did listen to her, they soon discovered she had several small blood clots in her lungs, which required medication. The athlete implied, however, that had she not been a celebrity, the staff may not have taken her request seriously- and the labor could’ve ended a lot different.
Unfortunately, Serena’s delivery story only reconfirms what the study found; that pregnant black women are less likely to receive quality prenatal care, which thus increases their chances of stillbirth. Clearly, this is a problem that can no longer just be swept under the rug.