Black women are three- to four times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes than White women.
Blue Shield of California is launching an initiative that links healthcare technology and collaboration with community-based organizations to improve services for new mothers and their babies.
The nonprofit health plan's Maternal Child Health Equity initiative aims to address disproportionate mortality rates among mothers and children, especially in underserved communities. Services are available to expecting and new mothers in Fresno, Los Angeles, and Sacramento counties through physician referrals.
According to federal data, Black women are three- to four times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes than White women, and more than twice as likely than non-Latinx White mothers to receive late or no prenatal care.
In addition, Black infants in the U.S. are more than twice as likely to die than White infants, which is also true within California, according to County Health Rankings.
"Black women continue to experience adverse birth outcomes and pregnancy-related complications at much higher rates compared to other racial/ethnic groups," D.D. Johnice, vice president of Blue Shield's Health Transformation Lab, said in an email exchange with HealthLeaders.
"Given the disparities in maternal and child health that are disproportionately impacting Black families and communities, something needed to change," Johnice said. "This health crisis is caused by racial health inequities – Black mothers are being ignored and underserved with the medical and social needs for them and their babies. That said, there is an urgent need for the healthcare system to develop thoughtful and impactful solutions to address it."
The initiative will work with community-based organizations such as Black Wellness and Prosperity Center, Diversity Uplift, and Her Health First to train "culturally congruent and trauma-informed" doulas and connect mothers to family-centered services, emergency funds, and maternal supplies.
The initiative will also collaborate with Mahmee to bring access to health records of the mother and baby, educational materials ranging from nutrition to return to work, and unbiased guidance throughout the process.
Johnice said the initiative was designed as a market test.
"From clinical and public health best practices, we developed a three-pronged approach to support and care for mothers and their babies – connecting them with community-based organizations, doulas, and technology," she said. "We are looking to improve pregnancy outcomes, mental health and stress, and the overall experiences with the healthcare system for birthing people and their families. Our goal is to learn what works best from this program in Fresno, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, and expand offerings from there."
“Given the disparities in maternal and child health that are disproportionately impacting Black families and communities, something needed to change.”
D.D. Johnice, vice president, Blue Shield Health Transformation Lab
John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.
Black women are more than twice as likely than non-Latinx White mothers to receive late or no prenatal care.
Black infants in the U.S. are more than twice as likely to die than White infants, which is also true within California.
The initiative will work with community partners to train "culturally congruent and trauma-informed" doulas and connect mothers to family-centered services.