Why Black people are more likely to die while pregnant: 'Zip codes tell the story,' doctor says

HARVEY, Ill. (WLS) -- This week is Black Maternal Health Week.

Aaliyah Byers knows the challenges that Black women can face during pregnancy.

"With my first daughter, we had some complications with her," said Byers who expecting her second child in September, a boy.

According to the CDC, nationally Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.

For Black women in Chicago, they're six times more likely to die, according to the city's health department.

The CDC cites multiple factors, including quality healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism and implicit bias.

SEE ALSO | COVID booster and pregnancy: Doctors work to combat vaccine hesitancy among expecting mothers

Dr. Lisa Green is the CEO & co-founder of Family Christian Health Center in south suburban Harvey, where Byers is a patient.

For Black Maternal Health Week, the center hosted Wednesday a wellness fair featuring different services available for moms and their families. A way to tackle some of the social determinants of health, Green said.

"When you look at what happens with health, all you have to do is look at zip codes," she said. "Zip codes tell the story, your economic access impacts your education, your housing, your food, and your health."

But Green said that's just one part of the equation. The other is that Black women aren't being heard in exam rooms. Their CenteringPregnancy program is working to change that.

"So part of the centering program here is to empower the women to elevate their voice to educate them and to empower them enough that when they're going to a doctor's visit, and something is awry, and they feel that they need to be heard, they now will have the ability to communicate in a language that they're comfortable with that raises their voice," Green said.

For Byers, knowing that her experiences and concerns matter here makes all the difference.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.