According to the New Jersey Report Card of Hospital Maternity Care, released last week by the state Health Department and First Lady Tammy Murphy, Black and Hispanic mothers have experienced more childbirth complications than white women.
The report also shows that cesarean deliveries declined slightly in New Jersey. They accounted for 33.3% of hospital births in 2019, the most recent data available, down from 34.4% in 2018.
New Jersey’s rate is roughly 7% higher than the national rate, according to the health department.
However, a traditional tendency of racial and ethnic disparities persists in childbirth and delivery in the state. Black women for years have had a maternal mortality rate seven times higher than white women in the state.
As reported by nj.com, non-Hispanic Black mothers had the highest rate of “severe maternal morbidity.” That is aneurysm, cardiac arrest, sepsis and eclampsia after a blood transfusion, with 35.6 per 1,000 deliveries at a hospital. Though slightly lower than in 2018, when the rate was 37.7, it was more than twice that of white mothers. White women had the lowest rate: 13.6 per 1,000 births.
Black women suffered hemorrhaging at a rate of 60.6 per 1,000 deliveries in 2019, slightly more than in 2018, when the rate was 60.5. Meanwhile, Hispanic women saw a bigger increase in complications, with a hemorrhaging rate of 53.2 per 1,000 births, compared with 48.1 in 2018.
White women saw a small decline, 46.7 per 1,000 deliveries, compared with 47.4 the previous year.
To reverse the tendency
First Lady Tammy Murphy is committed to reversing New Jersey’s appalling infant and maternal mortality record, one of the worst in the United States. She has set a goal of reducing maternal mortality by 50% in five years.
“While our data continues to show improvement in areas of cesarean sections, New Jersey still has much work to do to improve maternal and infant health outcomes for our mothers and babies of color,” the first lady said in a statement. “Our mission is to make New Jersey the safest place in the nation to deliver and raise a baby.”
The report noted that minorities now make up 53% of all births, compared to 46% in 2000.
New Jersey has undertaken numerous measures aimed at reversing the state’s distinction as one of the most unsafe states for childbirth.
To that end, Murphy launched Nurture NJ, a collaborative initiative involving government agencies, local civic groups and medical institutions to generate programs and campaigns that improve maternal and child health. Black babies in New Jersey are three times more likely to die before their first birthday than white babies.
The state Legislature has passed more than 30 measures in recent years aimed at maternal and infant health.
One of the most recent initiatives was a new bill, signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in July that created a universal home nurse visitation program for newborns. Under this program, specially trained nurses conduct home visits within the first two weeks after childbirth to monitor the mother and infant health conditions.