A Health Crisis Impacting Women and Babies of Color

Our nation is in the midst of a maternal and infant health crisis, which is particularly devastating for underserved families of color. Deeply entrenched, structural racism is directly and negatively impacting the health of moms and babies of color.

Data show that the U.S. remains among the most dangerous developed nations in the world for childbirth.1 Over 700 women die each year from pregnancy-related causes, and the CDC reports that 60 percent are preventable.2 It is even more dangerous for communities of color:

  • Black women are 3 times more likely than White women to die from pregnancy-related causes nationwide.3
  • Black babies are more than twice as likely as White babies to die before their first birthdays.4
  • Women of color are up to 50 percent more likely to give birth prematurely.5

Taking Action

It's time for bold, immediate action from policymakers to dismantle structural racism and to support policies and system changes that will lead to real and measurable improvements in health. We must work together to bring fair, just and full access to health care for all moms and babies.

March of Dimes offers a number of programs that seek to promote health equity for moms and babies. March of Dimes recognizes that implicit bias and stigma experienced by patients are potential contributors to the disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes. This year, March of Dimes launched an implicit bias training for health care providers with the goal of uncovering institutionalized racism in the health care system and training health care workers not to perpetuate the cycles of discrimination. In addition, the Beyond Labels website was created as a resource to raise awareness of stigma and work to help eliminate these disparities by addressing the root causes.

We also have a robust federal and state advocacy agenda and network focused on systemic solutions to health inequity. We look at health inequity and racial disparities in the work we do on the federal, state, and local levels. Join our Advocacy Action Center to add your voice to the thousands of March of Dimes advocates calling for policies that promote the health of women, children and families.

Read March of Dimes’ Statement in Response to the Death of George Floyd.

Additional Resources

Learn more about disparities in health care at the links below.



Journal Articles

1. [GBD 2015 Maternal Mortality Collaborators. Global, regional, and national levels of maternal mortality, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet 2016;388(10053):1775‐1812. ]
2. [Petersen EE, Davis NL, Goodman D, et al. Vital Signs: Pregnancy-Related Deaths, United States, 2011-2015, and Strategies for Prevention, 13 States, 2013-2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68(18):423‐429. ]
3. [Petersen EE, Davis NL, Goodman D, et al. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Pregnancy-Related Deaths-United States, 2007-2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68(35):762‐765.]
4. [Ely DM, Driscoll AK. Infant mortality in the United States, 2017: Data from the period linked birth/infant death file. National Vital Statistics Reports, vol 68 no 10. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2019.]
5. [Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Osterman MJK, Driscoll AK. Births: Final data for 2018. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 68, no 13. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2019.]