Bringing a new life into the world should be a safe and joyful experience for all. Can data help make that possible?

April 11 – 17 is Black Maternal Health Week which focuses conversations about maternal care around Black mothers to hear their stories and call for improvements in Black maternal health outcomes. As a data-focused company, we want to honor this week and share how data can help call out care disparities, reveal gaps in information gathering and drive better maternal health outcomes for Black mothers.

Each and every birth mother, regardless of circumstance, should have access to the care they need to deliver a healthy baby and make a full recovery. Unfortunately for too many mothers, that isn’t the case.

Addressing Maternal Health Disparities

As communities, researchers and policymakers seek to bring strategies and solutions forward to address these stark disparities, Metopio provides curated, relevant and actionable data to power better research, policy and care.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year 700 people die during pregnancy and another 50,000 experience several pregnancy complications that cause serious health complications.

These statistics show why the U.S. is ranked last among industrialized nations. What’s even more troubling is these negative outcomes disproportionately affect Black women. Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women.

Maternal Health Data

In order to try to understand where mothers are at risk, Metopio added 14 topics related to maternal and child health. This data comes from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), which is housed at the CDC, and is critically important to understand the risks and norms for moms and babies across the country.

New topics include:

  • Low birth weight
  • Average age of mothers
  • Average pre-pregnancy BMI
  • Births by C-section
  • Full term births
  • Births at home
  • Births induced
  • Births to mothers with obesity
  • Births with at least one maternal risk factor
  • Very preterm births
  • Average number of prenatal visits
  • Average infant birth weight
  • Preterm births
  • Very low birth weight

For example, here we look at births with at least one maternal risk factor across a sample of counties in Illinois.

While each is important, these topics don’t reflect how variation in the quality of healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias also impact maternal health outcomes. In addition, what’s currently available omits social determinants of health that have historically prevented many people from racial and ethnic minority groups from having fair opportunities for economic, physical, and emotional health.

That’s where our data visualization platform can help. Metopio allows you to examine maternal health topics together with prevalence of chronic conditions, access to providers, and social determinants of health.

As with a lot of government data, this is not all we want it to be but it’s a start. We are committed to curating more topics as they become available, and helping you understand any proprietary data you may have in this context. Our hope is the questions left unanswered drive even more data collection.

Using Data with Care

As with all publicly available data, the utmost care is taken to protect individual privacy. This data is deidentified and aggregated and follows suppression guidelines.

How does this impact what you can see? First, this data is available at the state level and for counties where the population is over 100,000. While this provides a look into urban and metropolitan areas, there is a noticeable gap for rural communities.

Metopio uses the five-year rolling average for this data set. This increases the amount of data that can be analyzed and decreases the margin of error, which gives you a better result.

Stratifications for this data help us get to the heart of disparities. Fortunately, this data has race/ethnicity for these topics at the state and county level to see how different communities are impacted.

Continuing the Conversation

This is a conversation that deserves ongoing attention, better data collection and analysis as well as advocacy.

Listening to the challenges faced by Black women and understanding where we have gaps in data can help address the disparities that exist and create meaningful, significant changes in healthcare and the systems of support.

Data at Metopio

Metopio is committed to providing curated, verified data so you can make better decisions. We are continually updating and adding to our data dictionary.  Do you have data that could enhance this discussion? Contact us