Miscarriage rates are far higher in Black women, study finds

Jennifer Savin
·2-min read
Photo credit: valentinrussanov - Getty Images
Photo credit: valentinrussanov - Getty Images

A new study has sadly found that Black women have a significantly higher risk of miscarrying of up to 43% compared to their white counterparts. The research, published in The Lancet, analysed data from 4.6 million pregnancies in seven different countries in order to reach a conclusion, and also estimates that 23 million miscarriages occur every year worldwide, equating to over 40 pregnancy losses every minute.

Scientists are now investigating whether other health issues, such as fibroid conditions and autoimmune disorders, could help explain this increased risk.

The research highlighted the following other risk factors too:

  • Age (being younger than 20 years and older than 35 years)

  • Older male age (older than 40 years)

  • Being very under or overweight

  • Previous miscarriages

  • Smoking

  • Alcohol

  • Stress

  • Working night shifts

  • Air pollution

  • Exposure to pesticides

Further previous research from the National Maternal, Newborn and Infant Clinical Outcome Review Programme report published in 2020 (known as the MMBRACE report) also suggested that Black women are four times more likely to die in childbirth and the post-partum period than white women. All of which has culminated in multiple campaign groups urging the government to take action.

The same report found Asian women are twice as likely to die during pregnancy or just after, and mixed race women up to three times more likely, too (although more granular details into this group were not stated).

It added: "What is encouraging is that individuals, groups, third sector organisations, research units and professional societies, the NHS and government bodies have responded positively to these unequal outcomes with multiple actions ranging from the first national Five x More Black Women’s Maternal Health Awareness Week to a new Race Equality Taskforce."

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

One reason for these shocking statistics could be healthcare bias – a study conducted in the US in 2016 found that 40% of first and second year medical students endorsed the idea that the skin of a Black person is thicker than that of a white person and therefore that Black people are not as sensitive to pain.

When writer and campaigner Candice Brathwaite shared her experience of healthcare bias during labour and postpartum with Cosmopolitan, she said, "A friend who’d already had children had forewarned me: 'Remember you’re Black. They won’t be that kind, so don’t bother making a fuss because that will only make things worse'."

Pictures posed by models

If you're looking for support or more information about premature births, stillbirths or miscarriage, baby loss charity Tommy's have a free helpline 0800 0147 800 (open 9 - 5, Monday to Friday). There's also a Facebook group where you can share your story with others who've had a similar experience.

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