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Marked Disparity in Incidence of Severe Maternal Morbidity

Black African, Caribbean women in UK at higher risk for severe maternal morbidity

WEDNESDAY, Mar. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Significant disparity exists in the incidence of maternal morbidity among women in the United Kingdom, particularly affecting black African and Caribbean ethnic groups, according to research published Mar. 3 in BMJ Online First.

Marian Knight, of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues reviewed national data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System database. A total of 686 women with severe maternal morbidity were identified from this cohort containing 775,186 maternities.

The overall incidence of severe maternal morbidity was 89 cases per 100,000 maternities, the investigators found. When restricting the analysis using ethnicity subgroups, the incidence in non-white women was dramatically higher compared with white women (126 cases versus 80 cases per 100,000 maternities, respectively). Black African women and black Caribbean women had the highest incidence of severe maternal morbidity compared with white women, the researchers report. Ethnicity differences remained even after adjusting for demographic factors, socioeconomic status and smoking habits.

"One unresolved question is whether ethnicity itself is directly relevant to poor maternal outcomes, or whether it is a surrogate marker for a constellation of factors like low socioeconomic status, low level of education and poor nutrition. It is a blunt marker when each ethnic grouping is so diverse," the authors of an accompanying editorial write.

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