Black Women In England SIX Times More Likely To Suffer Severe Birth Complications

Figures show more needs to be done to support Black women.
Pregnant woman at a doctor's appointment.
Fly View Productions via Getty Images
Pregnant woman at a doctor's appointment.

Stark figures show that Black women are six times more likely to suffer severe birth complications than their white counterparts across England.

The appalling numbers showed the extent of racial disparity in the health sector, as revealed by a Guardian analysis of NHS figures for 2022-23.

A huge 26% of Black women experienced the birth complication pre-eclampsia despite only making up 5% of deliveries across the country. Last year the Women and Equalities Committee published the Black Maternal Health report to flag the disparity in maternal deaths — and to call for more to be done to change the tide for future generations.

The report found that Black women are far more likely to die in childbirth than white women. It pointed to findings that maternal mortality for Black women is currently almost four times higher than for white women.

Shockingly, over the 2000-2002 period, Black African women were almost seven times as likely to die than white women.

In addition to this, the latest figures found that Black women were more likely to suffer from birth complications regarding high blood pressure, with the community making up 16% of cases.

An NHS spokesperson told The Guardian: “The NHS is fully committed to ensuring all women receive high-quality care before, during and after their pregnancy – all local maternity and neonatal systems now have action plans in place to help ensure care is equitable for all mothers, babies and families, with staff having access to inclusive clinical training aids to support care for women and babies with Black or dark skin.

“As these figures demonstrate, further progress is needed, which is why the NHS is investing £10m this year to enable targeted action against inequalities, including providing more holistic support for women living in the 10% most deprived areas of England, who we know are more likely to experience adverse outcomes during pregnancy and birth.”

The Motherhood Group, a Black maternal advocacy group responded to the findings and said: “The Guardian’s latest article reveals disparities in maternal health for Black women in England, who face up to 6x higher risks of severe birth complications.

“So here’s @MotherhoodGroup takeaways: Address root causes of health inequalities, confront bias in healthcare, government action needed, build trust in marginalised communities, £10M NHS investment to tackle inequalities.”