Temple, Philadelphia maternal wellness center study high maternal mortality rate for women of color

The rate is three times as high for Black women as it is for white women
A pregnant Black woman.
Photo credit PeopleImages/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)Temple University is teaming up with a Philadelphia maternal wellness center to study ways to reduce the high maternal mortality rate for Black women.

According to the CDC, the maternal mortality rate for Black women is three times higher than it is for white women.

It’s a problem that can no longer be tolerated, according to Saleemah McNeil, founder of Oshun Family Center and curator of the Maternal Wellness Village in Philadelphia.

McNeil, a traumatic birth survivor, is a co-principal investigator for the Temple study. She said they will be comparing traditional obstetric care to what they are calling “obstetric-plus.”

“The plus part is where we come in, with a multi-level approach to really help iron out different aspects of the impact on Black bodies,” McNeil said.

That partially involves doulas, lactation consultants, and therapists. A doula is a pregnancy support person who provides continuous emotional and physical guidance throughout pregnancy.

This study will zero in on Black mothers and heart disease.

“When we look at it in its entirety of the whole person, we realize that cardiovascular issues are a main component to fourth-trimester demise,” said McNeil.

“Our hope is we will have been able to prove the efficacy of being able to provide the wraparound services that supports families that ultimately reduces and/or eradicates at one point in time, the Black maternal mortality rates for preventable deaths.”

The five-year study will involve over 430 patients and is funded by a $6 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute in Washington, D.C.

She said the effected demographic have a seat at the table, as there are nine Black women on the advisory board.

“This project has just been coming together over these last few years, and we’re really sitting down with people who care about the mission and and are driven for change,” said McNeil.

McNeil hopes that when the study is over and the data is shared, more Black women are listened to and understood when they go to the hospital, and are treated with a level of care that ultimately reduces the Black maternal mortality rate.

Hadas Kuznits contributed to this report.

Featured Image Photo Credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images