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Black women four times more likely to die in childbirth

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Black women are more likely to die during birth Black women are more likely to die during birth

Black women are more than four times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than white women in the UK, a new report has found.

Additionally, the Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK (Mbrrace) report found that women from Asian backgrounds are almost twice as likely to die as white women. Some 495 individuals died during pregnancy or up to a year after birth, out of 2,173,810 having a child.

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‘Pregnancy and childbirth in the UK continue to be a safe experience for most women. However, we remain deeply concerned that mortality rates among Black women are four times higher than white women and twice as high if you are Asian or from another minority ethnic background. All those involved in commissioning and delivering maternity services must work together to address this unacceptable disparity,’ said RCM’s Director for Professional Midwifery, Dr Mary Ross-Davie.

‘Also, it’s crucial that clinicians are aware of this increased risk and have a low threshold for assessment or admission of Black, Asian and minority ethnic women to ensure they receive the appropriate assessment and specialist care.’

The report shows heart disease, epilepsy and stroke continue to be the most common causes of death. In some 37% of cases, improvements in care may have made a difference to the outcome.

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‘Tragically, this report highlights maternal suicides, where improved care might have affected the outcome. High quality perinatal mental health services are essential to maternity care and every Trust or Board should have a specialist service that includes a specialist perinatal mental health midwife,’ added Dr Ross-Davie.

‘The RCM has long called for specialist perinatal mental health provision in all Trusts and Health boards and this report highlights once more the urgent need to improve this provision. In many parts of the UK, these midwife roles do not exist or are very limited. This means many women who need additional support may not receive the right care.’

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