Racially disparate rates of infection and death from the COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted a painful reality. People of color face substantial barriers to care that are not present to the same extent for white people, including a disproportionate lack of access to quality care, health insurance, and patient-centered treatment. Fueled by decades of systemic racism and implicit bias, stark racial disparities pervade our healthcare system. Nowhere are these racial disparities more evident than in the context of maternal and infant mortality. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes than white women, and women of color are dramatically more likely to have risk factors related to birth that contribute to infant mortality and lifelong cognitive and physical health problems. Understanding racial disparities in maternal health outcomes is crucial to understanding racial disparities in the broader healthcare system and correcting the root causes. McCarter’s Social Justice Project hosted a conversation with experts in the field, who discussed the causes of racial disparities in maternal health outcomes and provided a fascinating look at the innovative policies and initiatives that are moving healthcare toward racial equity.
Tamarra James-Todd, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Environmental reproductive epidemiologist, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Linda Barry M.D., M.P.H., FACS
Associate Professor of Surgery, UConn School of Medicine, Diversity Representative for UConn, Association of American Medical Colleges, and Interim Director, UConn Health Disparities Institute
Simone Edwards, DrPH, MPH
Director of Special Projects, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
Chris T. Pernell, M.D., M.P.H., FACPM
Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine and Clinical Assistant Professor, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School