Addressing Black Maternal Mortality




black women, maternal, race-based


Increasing rates of maternal morbidity and mortality is a growing concern in many industrialized countries. Data from US maternal mortality review committees indicate that more than 80% of these deaths are preventable (Trost et al., 2019). Various factors contributing to this issue include advancing maternal age, increased adults living with congenital disease that may affect outcomes and increased prevalence of comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension (Fink et al., 2023).  In the United States, black women are disproportionately affected by maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity, facing rates almost three times higher than those of white women (Hoyert, 2023). Few Canadian studies exist, but they echo similar findings. Research by McKinnon and colleagues (2016) found that Black women were more likely to have premature babies and have their pain experiences discounted. A more recent qualitative study based in Toronto reported pervasive obstetric racism experienced by Black women (Boakye et al., 2023). These disparities stem from a complex interplay of factors, including systemic racism, socio-economic disparities, and unequal access to quality healthcare.  Unfortunately, research on Black maternal mortality and morbidity is limited in Canada, and we lack a much-needed national system to track these outcomes. Unlike the United States, few Canadian health agencies collect racial statistics. However, disaggregated race-based data is critical for informing targeted interventions and policy changes. This infographic was created under the umbrella of The Newcomer Health Hub, a Canadian medical student-run organization that seeks to increase awareness of health-care disparities in order to improve medical training. Infographics play a crucial role in enhancing comprehension, increasing engagement, and promoting health literacy. Together, through education, advocacy, and community engagement, we can work towards ensuring that every mother receives the support, resources, and care they need to have a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth experience, regardless of race or ethnicity. 

Author Biographies

Lotus Alphonsus, University of Western Ontario

Medical Student, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Western Ontario 

Meythula Alphonsus, University of Toronto

Bloomberg School of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

Jamie Thompson, Northern Ontario School of Medicine University

Northern Ontario School of Medicine University, Sudbury, ON


Boakye, P. N., Prendergast, N., Bandari, B., Anane Brown, E., Odutayo, A. A., & Salami, S. (2023). Obstetric racism and perceived quality of maternity care in Canada: Voices of Black women. Women's Health, 19.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, April 3). Working Together to Reduce Black Maternal Mortality. US Office of Health Equity.

Cortés, Y. I., & Breathett, K. (2021). Addressing inequities in cardiovascular disease and maternal health in black women. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 14(2).

Creanga, A. A., Berg, C. J., Syverson, C., Seed, K., Bruce, F. C., & Callaghan, W. M. (2015). Pregnancy-related mortality in the United States, 2006–2010. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 125(1), 5-12.

Fink, D. A., Kilday, D., Cao, Z., Larson, K., Smith, A., Lipkin, C., ... & Rosenthal, N. (2023). Trends in Maternal Mortality and Severe Maternal Morbidity During Delivery-Related Hospitalizations in the United States, 2008 to 2021. JAMA Network Open, 6(6).

Hoyert DL. (2023). Maternal mortality rates in the United States, 2021. NCHS Health E-Stats.

McKinnon, B., Yang, S., Kramer, M. S., Bushnik, T., Sheppard, A. J., & Kaufman, J. S. (2016). Comparison of black–white disparities in preterm birth between Canada and the United States. Cmaj, 188(1), E19-E26.

Trost, S., Beauregard, J., Chandra, G., Njie, F., Berry, J., Harvey, A., & Goodman, D. A. (2022). Pregnancy-related deaths: data from maternal mortality review committees in 36 US states, 2017–2019. Education, 45(10), 1-0.

Infographic - Addressing Black maternal mortality

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