An updated KFF issue brief on racial disparities in maternal and infant health includes new and updated analysis of data on pregnancy-related mortality, birth risks and infant mortality. The brief reviews the underlying factors contributing to maternal and infant health racial disparities, ranging from historical and ongoing racism to differences in access to health care and coverage and other social and economic factors that drive health.
With recent attention to this issue by federal and state policymakers, there are ongoing efforts to address the problem. The American Rescue Plan expanded access to and helped stabilize Medicaid coverage during the postpartum period, which many states have adopted. Other approaches include better data collection, better utilization of evidenced-based practices and diversifying the health workforce.
Looking forward, the overturning of Roe v. Wade is leading to increased barriers to abortion. This policy change may contribute to an increase in racial disparities in maternal and infant health and should be monitored.