According to Dr. Priya Agrawal, executive director of Merck for Mothers (an initiative launched to reduce maternal mortality), popular opinion in the US suggests maternal and infant death happens only in developing countries, but data proves otherwise, with US national rates increasing, even as maternal mortality rates worldwide decline.
"[Americans] don't think women are dying [from pregnancy] in the US, let alone that the rate is going up," Dr. Agrawal said.
Experts attribute the high maternal death rate in Detroit to a mix of chronic health conditions, which African-Americans suffer more often. African-Americans are up to four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women, and almost 83 percent of Detroit's population is black or African-American, according to US Census data.
Detroit also has a shortage of primary care physicians, some of whom do not accept Medicaid. Still, the recent expansion of Medicaid in the state - made possible through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - will help provide necessary preventive health services that will help ensure that women can manage health conditions before and after pregnancy.
Media Resources: The Detroit News 7/10/2014, 1/30/2014; Child Trends 11/2014; US Census Bureau; Feminist Newswire 5/9/14; Think Progress 5/6/14