Common Maternal Injuries

These health-disparities we are seeing between African American and white women stem from a multi-tiered process. With an increased risk to pregnancy complications already in place, the added negligence from doctors in caring for these women makes for problematic outcomes.  We’ve compiled a list of the most common disparities that black mothers and children are facing.  If you or a loved one are facing similar issues, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information on steps you can take to maintain the health of you and your child. 

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy, commonly known as CP, is a neurological disorder that is caused by a brain injury or malformation. CP affects muscle coordination and strength, and can also cause intellectual, hearing and visual impairments. According to the CDC, it is the most common motor impairment found in children, at a rate of about 1 in every 323 children.  While CP is a diverse condition that can impact families from all walks of life, there are numerous studies indicating that Black children are more prone to cerebral palsy than their white counterparts. 

Congenital Malformations

Congenital malformations are also known as “birth defects” and are a leading cause of infant mortality rates, as well as complications that mothers face during birth.   While not all birth defects can cause issues at birth, many can create complications later in life for the child as they age.   Relative to white mothers, black mothers give birth to children with a higher risk of musculoskeletal defects, which are birth defects that affect the bones and muscles.

Low Birth-weight

Researchers have consistently seen black mothers give birth to children with lower birth-weights than white mothers.  A low birth-weight is typically identified as a baby that weighs less than 5.5lbs at birth.  According to a 2004 study, black mothers are almost 3 times more likely than white mothers to give birth to a low birth-weight child.  Additionally, the level of discrimination the mother experiences also correlates with low birth-weights, as well as premature births.

Maternal Complications

Black women in the United States experience incredibly poor maternal health outcomes compared to their caucasian counterparts.  These barriers to healthcare can also cause complications for black mothers during birth, which can lead to multiple health issues for black mothers.  Already – black mothers die from health complications during birth at a level of 3-4x more than white mothers.

    Meconium Aspiration

    Meconium is a newborn baby’s first poop, a dark, thick, and sticky mass that is made up of protein and fats. Babies will typically pass meconium in the first hours or days after birth. But some babies may pass meconium while still in the womb.  If an infant inhales meconium before, or immediately after they are born, they are at risk of developing a condition called Meconium Aspiration Syndrome, or MAS. The risk of meconium in the amniotic fluid is 80 percent higher for Black women, making their risk of MAS 67 percent higher than white women.

      Placental Abruption

      The placenta connects the growing fetus to the uterus, providing oxygen, nutrients, and waste removal for the baby. After birth, the placenta detaches from the uterine wall as it is no longer needed by the mother or child.  When the placenta detaches before the baby is born it is called a placental abruption, a life threatening condition that can put both the infant and mother’s health and safety at risk. In the United States, Black mothers are almost twice as likely as white mothers to suffer a placental abruption, and the rate of placental abruptions has increased by 92 percent in the last 20 years. 


        Preeclampsia is one of the most common pregnancy related conditions, and Black women have a 60 percent higher rate of preeclampsia than white women. Left untreated, it can cause severe complications for mothers and their babies, and can often be fatal. 

          Reproductive Healthcare

          Black mothers face systemic differences in healthcare even before a child is conceived, and the lack of family planning can cause complications later on in the birth process.  

            Spinal Cord Injury

            While the Black maternal mortality rate in the United States is well documented, the rate Black infant death is equally appalling. According to the CDC, the Black infant mortality rate is more than twice that of white infants, at 10.8 per 1,000 live births. The CDC reports that the fifth highest cause of infant mortality is injuries, and a spinal cord injury, while rare, is one of the most serious kinds of injury an infant can experience.  When spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, do occur, they can cause lifelong disabilities and can be potentially fatal. While we often think of an SCI occurring in childhood or adolescence, a traumatic birth can also cause an SCI in an otherwise healthy infant. 

              Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

              Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (or SIDS) is the sudden unexplained death of a child under 1 year of age.  What this means, is that even after an investigation of the death as well as an autopsy, a cause of death cannot yet be determined for the child. According to the National Institute of Health, infant mortality rates for African American infants are at 15.3 deaths per 1000 live births, almost double the national infant mortality rate

                Uterine Rupture

                Uterine rupture is a rare, but highly dangerous, situation for both mother and baby. The baby must be delivered immediately, usually by emergency cesarean section, and the mother may require a hysterectomy following delivery to save her life.  Most often, uterine ruptures are experienced by women undergoing a VBAC, or vaginal birth after cesarean. These are women who have had a previous cesarean and are now attempting to have a vaginal birth. 

                  About S. Lee Merritt

                  Civil Rights Lawyer

                  Lee Merritt, Esq. is emerging as a leading and influential new voice in the fight for Social Justice. A dedicated civil rights activist and trial attorney, Merritt runs a high profile national practice focusing on victims of police brutality, hate crimes and corporate discrimination. As an activist, he has championed police reform and community empowerment. 

                  Do you need more information or want to help? 

                  Our organization can help mothers and their families who have faced medical issues during pregnancy learn about the resources available to them, as well as learn about what action they may be able to take legally due to discriminatory health practices.  Contact us below by email or phone and our team can learn more about your situation and give you free and friendly advice.

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