North Carolina has the 11th highest infant mortality rate in the county - at a rate of 7.2 per 1,000.1
Health care disparities in underserved and marginalized communities are largely to blame. Birthing people of color in North Carolina are more likely to die from preventable maternal health issues than White people. They are often met with racial bias and receive fewer educational services during labor and delivery than White people who give birth. These factors lead to worsening health outcomes for birthing people of color and their children.
Black, American Indian and Hispanic babies are up to 2.4 times more likely to die in the first year2
Black birthing people are 3 or 4 times more likely to die during childbirth3
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 60% of maternal deaths are preventable4
We're working with organizations across the state to tackle maternal and infant health inequities
We believe infant and maternal mortality is a public health crisis, and it's more important than ever to address the issues causing disparities during labor and postpartum health care.
Our goal? To improve health equity by reducing racial disparities in maternal and infant health care by 50% in five years.
We're focusing on the communities that need our help the most. When we make maternal and infant health disparities in marginalized communities a priority, we can address the state's infant and maternal mortality rate for all North Carolinians.
We are investing $2 million into evidence-based initiatives that are shown to make a significant improvement on infant and maternal health outcomes across the state - specifically the health and well-being of birthing people, and children, of color. We put out a request for proposals for organizations that have sustainable and expandable maternal health programs to help us address the factors that contribute to poor maternal health and birth outcomes like:
- Implicit bias/structural racism
- Safe sleep habits
- Tobacco, alcohol and substance use cessation
- Prenatal care
- Social drivers of health
- Maternal mental health
- Severe Maternal Morbidity (SMM)
- Postpartum care
Stay tuned for the announcement of the chosen organizations and the work they'll be leading to help us address the maternal and infant health crisis.
Read more from our Blue Cross NC Blog about maternal and infant health care disparities in North Carolina
The statistics are sobering: Black women in the U.S. are three times more likely to die from pregnancy than White women. Here in North Carolina, 27.6 women die per every 100,000 births. For Black women, that number is more than double. These disparities persist across education, income, and age levels.
You would think that with each passing year, incidents of complications during pregnancy and childbirth would decrease. But the recent Health of America report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association shows otherwise.
In the United States, nearly four million women give birth each year, and the majority do so without any complications. But even with the health advances in the U.S., our country still has the highest maternal death rate compared to any other developed nation.