(Center for American Progress) — If the fact that the United States has the highest maternal and infant mortality rates among comparable developed countries is not bad enough, the survival rates for African American mothers and their infants are even more dismal.1 African American women across the income spectrum and from all walks of life are dying from preventable pregnancy-related complications at three to four times the rate of non-Hispanic white women,2 while the death rate for black infants is twice that of infants born to non-Hispanic white mothers.3

Maternal mortality affects U.S. women from all backgrounds; if a woman is able to become pregnant, she risks experiencing complications such as preterm labor, infections, gestational diabetes, and even death due to her pregnancy. Among women who survive pregnancy and childbirth, 50,000 women each year experience life-threatening pregnancy-related complications4, also known as severe maternal morbidity (SMM). Discussions of the maternal health crisis in the United States often exclude this condition that disproportionately affects women of color, with African American women twice as likely to experience SMM compared with non-Hispanic white women.5

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