The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recognizes that significant disparities exist in the rates of maternal morbidity and mortality, with higher rates occurring among black women, women who have a low income, and women living in rural areas. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System (PMSS), between 2007 and 2016, the maternal mortality rate for black women was 40.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. This is more than three times the rate for white women, which was 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births.
The AAFP also recognizes that the root causes of racial and ethnic disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality are institutional racism in the health care and social service delivery system and social and economic inequities. Family physician are well positioned to address these root causes as they are trained to provide comprehensive care including prenatal, perinatal, and postpartum care for women in the communities in which they live.
The AAFP defines birth equity as the assurance of the conditions of optimal births for all people with a willingness to address racial and social inequalities in a sustained effort. The AAFP recommends educating physicians about inequities in maternal morbidity and mortality and supports strategies that integrate birth equity into the delivery of family-centered maternity care.