July 18, 2024

Survey Reveals Alarming Maternal Health Crisis in Georgia: 1 in 10 People Know Someone Who Has Died during Pregnancy or Childbirth

Georgia is currently facing a severe maternal health crisis, with concerning statistics revealed by a recent survey conducted by Emory University’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center in collaboration with Research!America. The survey, which polled over 1,400 individuals, unveiled the shocking reality faced by many Georgians.

The survey also shed light on the widespread prevalence of complications during pregnancy, with nearly 60% of respondents reporting personal experience or knowing someone who has experienced such complications. In addition, over one-third of participants identified racism as a significant obstacle to achieving equal health outcomes. This data serves as further confirmation of the disproportionate toll that the maternal mortality crisis is taking on Georgia. The state currently ranks among the worst in the nation for pregnancy-related deaths, with Black women facing triple the likelihood of dying from pregnancy-related complications compared to white women.

Dr. Ravi I. Thadhani, the executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University, emphasized the survey results as a confirmation of the significant impact of the maternal health crisis on Georgia. He highlighted the devastating downstream effects on the lives of women, their families, and their children.

Interestingly, the survey revealed a shared desire for improvement across the political spectrum. 89% of Democrats and 74% of Republicans expressed the importance of elected officials supporting efforts to reduce maternal mortality. This finding debunks the notion that this issue is partisan, as it affects all residents of Georgia, particularly pregnant women. Dr. Thadhani urged the state to come together to address this crisis collectively.

In response to the alarming rates of maternal mortality, the Georgia Legislature expanded Medicaid coverage for new mothers in 2020, providing accessibility from pregnancy until one year after giving birth. This expansion aims to address the significant number of deaths occurring several weeks or months after delivery, often due to undetected heart or blood problems during health checkups.

The leading causes of maternal deaths in Georgia, according to a report examining the period between 2018 and 2020, include hemorrhage, mental health conditions, cardiovascular or coronary conditions, embolism, and preeclampsia or eclampsia.

The survey respondents identified substance use disorders, lack of insurance, and mental health challenges as the top factors contributing to increased maternal mortality risk. The data also stressed the undeniable disparities in maternal health rates for Black women across all education and income levels. Instances of medical professionals dismissing patients’ complaints, which represent missed opportunities to save lives, have proven particularly detrimental to Black patients, according to research.

The Georgia survey further exposed disparities in access to healthcare for African Americans and Hispanics. African Americans were found to be 48% more likely to face a lack of available appointments, 23% more likely to encounter transportation issues, and 23% more likely to have to travel long distances to hospitals or clinics. Racism was identified as a major obstacle to achieving equitable health outcomes by 49% of Black respondents and 41% of Hispanic respondents.

The survey revealed significant concerns regarding the fairness of the healthcare system, with 61% of respondents believing that people are treated unfairly based on their ethnic or racial background. The same percentage expressed concerns about inequitable treatment based on English fluency levels. Additionally, over half of the respondents (54%) cited high healthcare costs as the top barrier to accessing healthcare, even for those with insurance.

Over 70% of participants emphasized the importance of improving the affordability of maternal healthcare and expanding access to health insurance coverage as priorities in reducing maternal mortality.

A symposium hosted by Emory University’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center, Research!America, Morehouse School of Medicine, and the Mercer University School of Medicine aims to address the maternal health crisis in Georgia. The symposium brings together stakeholders from various sectors, including healthcare, government, communities, and advocacy groups, to foster collaboration. Dr. Thadhani acknowledged that awareness of the challenges faced by Georgia’s mothers and expectant mothers exists, but emphasized the need for different strategies and innovative approaches to make a significant impact on this urgent problem.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it