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Maternal Mortality Rates For Black Women In Pittsburgh Higher Than In Most Other U.S. Cities

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Black women in Pittsburgh are more likely to die during pregnancy than their peers in 97 percent of U.S. cities, according to a sweeping new report from the city's Gender Equity Commission. There's also significant inequity when it comes to employment, poverty and college readiness for black women when compared to white women and men.

"These are not surprising results to most people who live the inequality," said anupama jain, executive director of Pittsburgh's Gender Inequity Commission. "Who [the statistics] might surprise are people who don't recognize that they're perpetuating these inequalities."

The report also found that compared to other U.S. cities, black men in Pittsburgh have a higher risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, drug overdoses and a host of other adverse outcomes.

Junia Howell, urban sociologist at the University of Pittsburgh, said these statistics signal that black residents can leave Pittsburgh for virtually any other U.S. city and immediately have better health outcomes.

Fetal deaths are two times more likely among Pittsburgh's Black women compared to White women, according to the report.
Credit City of Pittsburgh's Gender Equity Commission

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"Of course we don't want that to happen," Howell said. "But the reality is if we ... reckon with the inequality in Pittsburgh -- and that it's much greater than the vast majority of cities in the U.S. -- we are not only making the city liveable for our black residents but for all of us."

Three more reports studying inequities across gender and race in Pittsburgh will be released by the commission. The second is expected in coming months, and will analyze inequity among City of Pittsburgh employees.

The final report will feature a set of recommendations for how to combat inequity in Pittsburgh, an effort that jain said will have to extend far into the future.

"Anyone who thinks we're going to address inequalities that go back generations in five years, or ten years, is incorrect," she said. 

Kathleen J. Davis covers news about just about anything at WESA. She’s also the primary reporter and producer of WESA’s weekly series Pittsburgh Tech Report. Kathleen originally hails from the great state of Michigan, and is always available to talk about suburban Detroit and Coney Island diners. She lives in Bloomfield.
As a public media organization, WESA provides free and accessible news service to the public.

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