LOS ANGELES, Calif.— Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell’s motion proclaiming the week of April 11-17, 2021 as Black Maternal Health Week and April 16th, as The Day of the Black Infant in Los Angeles County.
Although Black women make up only 5 percent of the birth cohort in California, they comprise 21 percent of pregnancy-related deaths. In LA County, mortality rates among Black women from perinatal complications is four times higher compared to White women and Black infants are three times more likely to die before reaching their first birthday compared to White infants.
“What I learned from passing the Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act is that Black women from all walks of life continue to pay a deadly cost for implicit bias within our healthcare system. Too often our pain is ignored and not given the serious medical response it deserves,” shared Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. “Black Maternal Health Week seeks to help end this by raising much needed awareness of the disproportionately high maternal death rate among Black women, uplifting solutions and tools to help save lives and reinforcing the County’s commitment to an anti-racist public service and healthcare system.”
In 2019, during her tenure in the California Legislature, Supervisor Mitchell authored and passed the Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act. This law requires that medical providers take implicit bias training to address the stereotypes and misconceptions that lead to inadequate care and deaths among Black women.
Black Maternal Health Week was first established in 2017 as a national weeklong amplification of Black voices regarding the maternal health care crisis in the Black community. In LA County, the week will be celebrated by bringing attention to reproductive and birth justice and the importance of reducing the rate of Black maternal mortality.
In addition to raising awareness, Black Maternal Health Week also seeks to connect more Black women to the resources offered through the LA County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Initiative. This initiative was launched by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, First 5 LA, and a coalition of community partners to address birth outcome inequities and close the infant mortality gap in LA County. To learn more visit https://www.blackinfantsandfamilies.org.