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Black women are up to five times more likely to die during childbirth

A government report has found shocking inequalities between the mortality rates of black and white expectant and new mothers.

The report, published in November 2020, concluded that whilst deaths in childbirth have fallen overall since 2010, black mothers are still five times more likely to die whilst giving birth, with a mortality rate of 38 in 100,000, compared to seven in 100,000 for white women.

It also found that, while not as severe, Asian women and mixed ethnicity women were also more likely to die during childbirth, with a mortality rate of 13 in 100,000 and 23 in 100,000 respectively.



This significant disparity in statistics are not yet fully understood, as Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, the Chief Midwifery Officer told the Joint Committee on Human Rights: “I am still not confident that we know why there is an inequality in health outcomes between a black woman and a white woman.

“We have plausible explanations and the evidence on comorbidities is compelling, but there is something more.”

However, an article by Lilian Anekwe in the British Medical Journal contends that institutional racism plays a large part, especially with a lack of diverse representation within medical research.

Professor Gurch Randhawa PhD FFPH DL, Professor of Diversity in Public Health and Director, Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire, is quoted in the article to say: “Unless all ethnic communities are included in research, the medical profession will never be able to develop culturally competent diagnostic tests and services —and therefore can’t deliver true equity in healthcare.”

Despite the finding, the NHS have admitted they have no current target to end the imbalance, with the report concluding: The NHS acknowledge and regret this disparity but have no target to end it. The Government must introduce a target to end the disparity in maternal mortality between Black women and white women.”



Furthermore, MBRRACE, a national programme of work documenting late foetal losses, stillbirths and infant deaths, found in September 2020 that the presence of COVID-19 has only further highlighted the inequalities within maternity care.

The report examining the deaths of women who died from COVID-19 in the UK found that, not only were Black pregnant women eight times more likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19, but 88% of women who lost their lives were from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.

Steps are being taken to address these issues, including:

  • Increased support of at-risk pregnant women.
  • Reaching out and reassuring pregnant BAME women with tailored communications.
  • Ensuring hospitals discuss vitamins, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy with all women.
  • Ensuring all providers record on maternity information systems the ethnicity of every woman, as well as other risk factors, such as living in a deprived area (postcode), co-morbidities, BMI and being aged 35 years or over, to identify those most at risk of poor outcomes.



Carlos Lopez, Head of Clinical Negligence at Hampson Hughes, said: “While this latest report is deeply concerning, it highlights the importance of a collaborative approach to tackling problems within the healthcare system.

“The work carried out by healthcare professionals to look at the root causes of these disparities is invaluable to finding a solution to them, and this needs to be supported not just throughout the NHS but up to the highest level in Government. It is simply not good enough that women are being put at risk during what is an already physically stressful period in their lives.”

For the most part, the standard of maternity care in the UK is excellent; however, there are instances where mistakes and neglect during pregnancy or childbirth occur, and these mistakes can be potentially life-changing for both mother and baby.

If you feel as though you have received poor maternity care that has led to medical negligence, it is important you seek out the best medical negligence experts to help you through your claim. At Hampson Hughes, our dedicated team is on hand to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

To find out more, get in touch with team of experts for a free, no-obligation consultation on  or 

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