Study Finds That Hypertension Is a Major Factor in the Rise of Black Maternal Mortality Rates

Chronic hypertension is contributing substantially to maternal deaths in the United States, with particular risk among Black women, according to new research led by scholars at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The study found a 15-fold increase over the past 40 years in maternal mortality rates as a result of the condition.

The study, led by Cande V. Ananth, professor, vice chair, and chief of the division of epidemiology and biostatistics in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey, analyzed data from more than 155 million births and 3,287 hypertension-related maternal deaths among women aged 15 to 49 from 1979 to 2018 in the United States.

“Black women were at anywhere from three- to four-fold increased risk of dying from a hypertension-related cause compared to White women in the United States, and this disparity has persisted for the last 40 years,” Dr. Ananth said, noting that problems with access to care and many risk factors for hypertensive complications are higher among Black women than White women, which contributes to this disparity.

The full study, “Historical and Recent Changes in Maternal Mortality Due to Hypertensive Disorders in the United States, 1979 to 2018,” was published in the journal Hypertension. It may be accessed here.

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