Houston struggles with racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality rates with Black women and infants facing disproportionately high risks.
According to a report by The Texas Tribune, Black women are less likely to carry pregnancies to term, and their infants are twice as likely to die before their first birthday compared to other racial groups in Harris County. This crisis stems from systemic failures and persistent racial disparities in healthcare access.
The mortality rates for Black infants are significantly higher. From 2014 to 2019, the mortality rate for Black infants was 11.1 per 1,000 births, compared to 4.7 for white infants. This discrepancy persists regardless of income or insurance status.
Studies reveal that medical providers often disregard Black women’s concerns, minimize their complaints, and fail to provide appropriate care. This systemic racism contributes to “deaths of disparity.”
Barbie Robinson, executive director of Harris County Public Health, acknowledges that this crisis is preventable and is striving to address it. A maternal child and health office has been established, and a home-visit pilot program connects pregnant and postpartum patients with essential resources.
Texas, with the nation’s highest uninsured rate, further complicates matters, as many pregnant individuals lack coverage and avoid seeking care, often skipping crucial first-trimester visits. The systemic failures leading to Black maternal and infant mortality demand comprehensive efforts to rectify disparities in healthcare access and to ensure equitable outcomes for all.