CDC reports slight decline in fetal mortality among Black women

Thursday, January 12, 2023
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics reports there has been a small decline in fetal mortality among Black women. The report also says North Carolina and Pennsylvania are the two states that have seen declines.

The CDC defines fetal mortality as the number of fetal deaths at 20 weeks of gestation or more per 1,000 live births and fetal deaths. The total rate across the US accounting for White, Hispanic and Black women has been pretty consistent going back to 2019 with 5.70 per 1,000 live births and fetal deaths to 5.68 in 2021. But Black women specifically have seen a 5% decline, going from 10.41 in 2019 to 9.8 in 2021 according to Thursday's report.

Dr. Michael Jones, the chief of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, said the state's efforts pushing for preterm birth screenings and improvements to NICUs in recent years could be some of the factors behind the development.

"The community is also embracing the idea of, 'I really have to watch what I eat when I'm a diabetic, when I'm a pregnant woman, when I have high blood pressure.' So, we're getting more buy-in with that and that helps a lot because there's only so far that insulin and other medications can go," Jones said.

However, Angela Tatum Malloy of Momma's Village points out that some areas such as Cumberland County are still seeing disproportionate rates of death and complications in childbirth; 11.7% of babies were born preterm in Cumberland County in 2020 according to the March of Dimes compared to 10.8% for the state overall. Tatum Malloy also points out that Black women are still falling victim to maternal health problems more than other races or ethnicities.

"We want all of the rates to be lowered. And you know, one baby in any race is too many so we do acknowledge that. In addition to that, we want to make sure we're addressing why there is a large gap," Tatum Malloy said.

Jones and Tatum Malloy advise women who are expecting a child to monitor their health closely and to consult with health providers and other women they trust. Too often, women mistake warning signs about their pregnancies for mild health symptoms.
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