New research reveals alarming rise in maternal morbidity and the stark disparities linked to race and income.

A new report sheds light on a dramatic increase in serious complications for moms giving birth and how the risks of complications are significantly greater for poor women and Black women.

The study by the Pennsylvania Health Cost Containment Council found that from 2016 to 2022, the number of women who had maternal morbidities increased 40%. Severe maternal morbidity includes unexpected outcomes of labor and delivery that result in significant short- or long-term consequences to a woman’s health.

The rate of maternal morbidities among new moms increased from 75.2 per 10,000 delivery hospitalizations in 2016 to 105.2 per 10,000 delivery hospitalizations in 2022. The rate actually peaked in 2021 when it hit 110 before dropping last year.

The increase in severe maternal morbidity rate during this time was largest for Black, non-Hispanic patients: jumping 51% from 127.1 in 2016 to 191.5 in 2022. And the rate of severe maternal morbidities in poor ZIP codes was double the rate in wealthy ZIP codes. The disparities based on the comparative poverty and wealth of the new moms’ communities of residence widened –from a 37.9 point gap (the rate was 101.9 per 10,000 in poor ZIP codes and 64 per 10,000 in wealthy ZIP codes) in 2016 to a 73.9 point gap (the rate was 163.6 per 10,000 in poor ZIP codes and 89.7 per 10,000 in wealthy ZIP codes) in 2022.

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