Invisible Women: Maternal and Infant Mortality

There is a silent epidemic that is taking the lives of women and children across our nation. According to the CIA, the United States (US) has the worst birth outcomes of any of the other developed countries. These adverse birth outcomes include rising maternal deaths, high infant mortality rates and high proportions of preterm and low birth weight births (CDC, 2018). Infant mortality is defined as the death of a baby before its first birthday.

Infant mortality rates are especially significant because sociologists use this rate to measure the health of a nation and based on America’s rates we are very sick. According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), an infant born in the US is almost three times more likely to die in its first year of life than an infant born in Finland or Japan.

But it is not only the children who are in danger, mothers are also at risk. From 1987, the number of reported pregnancy-related deaths nationally rose from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births to 17.8 per 100,000 in 2009 and 2011. According to the CDC, an estimated 31% of women who give birth have serious complications and these complications are the second leading cause of short-term disability and the sixth leading cause of long-term disability.

When you examine the infant mortality rates of African Americans, the infant mortality rate is double the rate of White Americans. In regards to maternal mortality, black mothers experience one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health. ProPublica and NPR found that in the United States black mothers are 243 percent more likely than Whites or Hispanics to