There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has brought a lot of challenges and affected everyone’s life in one way or another. Unfortunately, some groups have been more deeply impacted than others have, and it’s brought to light the many cracks in our health care system. This has only added to an already existing crisis affecting parents and babies of color.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. faced a serious maternal and infant health crisis. Today, it remains among the most dangerous developed nations for childbirth—an effect of structural racism and harmful policies that have led to alarming trends in maternal and infant mortality.
What the data show
In this country, 1 in 10 babies is born preterm each year and unfortunately, this rate is continuing to rise. Preterm birth and its complications are the second largest contributors to infant death in the U.S. Among Black, American Indian/Alaskan Native and Hispanic women these rates remain much higher. Data show that women of color are up to 50 percent more likely to give birth preterm and their children can face a 130 percent higher infant death rate. Additionally, a significant racial disparity (difference) in maternal death exists with Black women being 3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes compared to white women. In the U.S., two babies die every hour, and about every 12 hours a woman dies from pregnancy-related causes.
In response to this maternal and infant health crisis, action must be taken. We can work together to close the health equity gap and end preventable preterm birth and maternal and infant death. This November, during Prematurity Awareness Month, the maternal and infant health crisis will be further spotlighted through the annual March of Dimes Report Card.
Advocate for the health of moms and babies
On November 17, World Prematurity Day, join us to fight for all moms and babies. Your action will make all the difference for families everywhere. Together we can:
- Pioneer research with the Mom and Baby COVID-19 Intervention Fund. We’re funding important research for interventions, including a vaccine for COVID-19, that are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding moms.
- Advocate by demanding #BlanketChange for policies that put moms and babies first. Our Maternity Care Deserts report shows that at least 5 million women in the U.S. live in counties with no hospitals offering obstetric services. We’re monitoring key data and recommending solutions to improve health care.
- Educate moms through our Supportive Pregnancy Care program. We’re offering knowledge and resources to help more moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies, particularly in underserved communities.
- Empower families with NICU Family Support® (NFS) and the My NICU Baby App™. NFS program coordinators are in hospitals providing NICU parents with information and comfort they need. The My NICU Baby App™ helps parents navigate a scary experience by finding answers and support at any time.
Moms, dads, babies and families in every community and across the country need champions like you now more than ever. As 2020 has taught us, we’re in this together. We can fight to improve maternal and infant health, and together, we can ensure every mom and baby gets the care they need. Join us to fight for every mom and baby. Give every family the best possible start.