Disparities in black and brown infant & maternal mortality rates

Published on: 03/07/2021


The recent publishing of the new N.I.C.E. guidelines regarding black and brown birthing people have caused an outrage online, prompting the hashtag #notsonice all over social media. The latest guidelines suggest that it would be best to induce all black and brown birthing people at 39 weeks, in a bid to prevent high infant and maternal deaths for those ethnic groups. Here, at The OBS, we fundamentally stand against this and are appalled at this patronising and controlling approach to fix an issue that has far wider and deeper roots than the length of human gestation.

Reports from both, the UK and US, show that black and brown women and birthing people are five times more likely to die from pregnancy related issues. It is also argued that most of these causes are preventable, so the question is, how it is possible that the care and due-diligence for black and brown birthing people is of lesser quality than for their white counterparts. It has been acknowledged that in both countries, this is a national problem, and one that needs solving as soon as possible.

Reasons for the shocking fact that more than 60% of those deaths would have been preventable are as follows:

  • Lack of access to the necessary health care and special care facilities
  • Late, missed or false diagnoses
  • Lack of knowledge of health care providers
  • Lack of care
  • Dismissal or disregard for black or brown birthing people

Instead, hospitals and healthcare should confront these underlying issues head on and instead do the following:

  • “Implement standardized protocols in quality improvement initiatives, especially among facilities that serve disproportionately affected communities.
  • Identify and address implicit bias in healthcare that would likely improve patient-provider interactions, health communication, and health outcomes.”

The government proclaims to do what it can to ensure that birthing people of all ethnic backgrounds, be it a minority or not, know they get the same care and feel safe when they give birth.
Kemi Badenoch, minister for equalities states: “Whoever you are and wherever you live, the birth of a child should be a wonderful, momentous time for a mother and her family.”

Sadly, the latest N.I.C.E. guidelines seem like another slap in the face of racial equality. Here, at The OBS, we say “No” to N.I.C.E. and ask you to support us in the ongoing fight to end disparities in black and brown infant and maternal mortality rates. Here are some suggestions of what you can do:

  • Don’t stay quiet on the matter. Speak out, regardless of the colour of your skin.
  • Speak to black and brown people.
  • Speak to or write to your MP.
  • Speak or write to your local MVPs (Maternity Voices Partnerships)

It’s time to unite, to stand against these guidelines and understand that they cannot be forced upon birthing people as a quick fix for something that goes a lot deeper. Black lives matter, brown lives matter. We have a long way to go to true equality and equity.
We also need more black and brown people to support Black and Brown birthing people. This should be mandatory.

Please follow @notson.i.c.e for more information and updates on the campaign. We are working hard in the background to take action and put a stop to this.

A link to the consultation has been added below:

Join conversation (microsoft.com)

References:

NICE recommends offering women induced labour earlier in new draft guidance | News and features | News | NICE

Racial and Ethnic Disparities Continue in Pregnancy-Related Deaths | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC

Physician-patient racial concordance and disparities in birthing mortality for newborns - PubMed (nih.gov)

Government working with midwives, medical experts, and academics to investigate BAME maternal mortality - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)