Deaths from pregnancy complications have become more prevalent in Mississippi, and racial disparities in the health of those who give birth have widened in recent years, according to a report released Thursday by the state’s Department of Health.
Blackwomen had a rate four times higher than whitewomen. Meanwhile, the rate increased by 25% for Black women while falling 14% among white women. Of the maternal deaths directly related to pregnancy, 87.5% were determined to be preventable.
Mississippi’s Republican-controlled state legislature has been debating whether to extend Medicaid coverage from 60 days to a full year after childbirth, a policy supported by State Health Officer Dr. Dan Edney and some other leaders.
“It is imperative that we take care of our most vulnerable populations now. This is the only way we can move Mississippi’s health status off the bottom of the chart.”
Edney saidin a statement.
To compile the report released Thursday, a committee of doctors and nurses reviewed 93 deaths, 40 of which were determined to have been pregnancy‐related. It found that 42.5% of the maternal deaths it identified occurred more than 60 days but less than one year after delivery.
Advocates from the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, an advocacy group, gathered at the Capitol to urge lawmakers to extend postpartum coverage.