Living in Majority-Black Neighborhoods in Philly Linked to Increased Maternal Health Issues

Posted by Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity on April 27, 2021

Researchers at Penn Medicine explored the impact of individual and neighborhood-level stressors on the severe morbidity rate among people giving birth in Philadelphia. The study analyzed 63,334 pregnancy deliveries during a seven-year period at four hospitals within the University of Pennsylvania Health System and compared health outcomes to U.S. Census data. Researchers found that neighborhoods with majority-Black residents suffered from disproportionately higher rates of maternal morbidity. The study showed that the rate of severe maternal morbidity increased by 2.4 percent with every 10 percent increase in the percentage of individuals in the neighborhood identifying as Black or African American on the Census. Alternatively, the study indicated that identifying as white was associated with lower odds of severe maternal morbidity. Researchers suggest that crime rates and the racial composition of a neighborhood have the most significant impact on maternal morbidity rates. Researchers also recommend that a concerted effort be made to identify neighborhoods where environmental and social stressors are disproportionately high, so that community-specific interventions can be implemented to support the well-being of the residents.

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