According to the CDC, Black women in the U.S. are three to four times more likely than non-Hispanic white women to die from pregnancy-related causes. Black women are also twice as likely to experience severe maternal mortality or life-threatening pregnancy-related complications. Joanne Armstrong, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Medical Officer for Women’s Health and Genomics at CVS Health, recently spoke with Sara Heath for a Healthcare Strategies podcast about CVS Health and Aetna efforts to address these experiences.
“People are aware of this crisis of maternal morbidity and mortality, especially for Black women, but what does it really mean? Black women across the income and education spectrum, from all walks of life, and in good health have worse outcomes in maternal and child health compared to their White counterparts. Why is that?” she said.
Armstrong noted that multiple factors contribute to these poorer outcomes, including variation in quality health care, implicit bias among providers, underlying chronic conditions, and structural racism.
“There’s something different that's happening about the experience of Black women when they enter our maternal care system. If you ask what are these differences, what are the important drivers of bad health outcomes, and what things are preventable, you can start to get down to the causes,” she noted.
Aetna’s Maternity Program is focusing on addressing preventable maternal risks on a number of fronts, including via its preeclampsia prevention initiative.