African-American women have the greatest risk of dying from pregnancy-related complications because they tend to forego prenatal care, new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims.

Black women are three to four times more likely than White women to be involved in pregnancy difficulties. The CDC found that deaths within one year of pregnancy are related to complications from blood clots, heart problems, or hemorrhages.

“Pregnancy is a joyful time, but not without its risks,” Dr. Renee Volny, an obstetrician-gynecologist and health policy fellow at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute in Atlanta, told TheGrio.com. “Pregnancy puts physical stress on some of the body’s vital organs.”

Without prenatal care, a series of checkups, or an appropriate assessment by a doctor, expectant women might not realize that pregnancy can put the lives of both mother and children at risk.

In the past 20 years, CDC data shows that there have been more pregnancy-related deaths among all populations of women. Without early prenatal care it becomes very difficult to detect fatal conditions.

What causes Black women to avoid prenatal care? In some cases, it is a preconceived notion of racism, while in others it is a lack of insurance. However, with the political atmosphere swarming around clarification of the healthcare reform bill, there is hope that these statistics will change.

“With its passing, almost every mother will have health insurance, which will remove at least one barrier of accessing preconception counseling and prenatal care,” Volny said.

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