The State of Babies Yearbook 2020: Maternal and Child Health Inequities Emerge Even Before Birth

Here on our blog, we’ve been posting frequently about racism and its impact on the children, families, and communities whom we serve and with whom we partner.  All over the country and world, we see a heightened response to the ongoing systemic oppression of people who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color – and now is not the time to look away; rather, it’s time to deepen our understanding and commitment to transformation.

Today, we’re bringing you a report from Think Babies that illustrates why racial equity is so crucial to our mission.  In their annual State of Babies Yearbook, Child Trends and Zero to Three reports that maternal and child health inequities start even before birth (you can read the whole thing here).  They write:

“To have a healthy pregnancy and positive birth outcomes, women and their infants require access to appropriate health care services, before, during, and after birth. Extensive data indicate serious racial and ethnic disparities in infant and maternal health care and health outcomes. For example, Black, American Indian, and Hispanic women are more likely than their White counterparts to receive late or no prenatal care.

“They are also more likely to experience serious health problems or die during or after birth from resulting complications. In comparison to White infants, Black and American Indian infants have a much higher risk of being born preterm and/or with low birth weight, are less likely to be breastfed, and are more likely to die within their first year.

Why is this? Even after controlling for education, wages, neighborhood (all of which are impacted by historical and present systemic and institutional racism in the US), they find:

Underlying the stark differences in these outcomes are disparities in access to health care, the experiences women have in the health care setting, and the cumulative effects of stress (including the stress of experienced racism) on women’s health. 

Maternal and child health are deeply impacted by the 400+ years of racism in the US – so our social services and healthcare must be profoundly informed by a commitment to racial equity.  At Children’s Friend, we have the opportunity – and responsibility – to make an impact when it most counts: from the start.

Robert Hagberg, Chief of Strategy

Robert Hagberg, Chief of Strategy