Double Dose: Black Maternal Health in the United States; Google Fumbles on Childcare; AMA Apologizes for Past Racism; Doctors Discussing Weight; Open Letter to Obama on Late-Term Abortion; Postcards From Vermont ...

By Christine Cupaiuolo — July 11, 2008

U.S. Black Maternal Health Tied to Social Stress: Writing in Women’s eNews, June Ross looks at how advocates for black women are redefining maternal health — the period from pregnancy through the first six months after delivery — to include a woman’s overall well-being. It’s the first in a series on black maternal health.

“Regardless of their age, marital status, education or early prenatal care, African American women are more likely to bear premature and low-birth-weight infants, those under 6 pounds, whose survival odds are below the U.S. norm,” writes Ross. “Nationwide, black women are three to four times more likely to die giving birth than either white or Latina women. Their infants’ mortality risk is doubled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disparity has persisted even as infant mortality rates for the nation as a whole have fallen.”

“Prenatal care alone doesn’t solve the problem,” said Eleanor Hinton Hoytt, president of the Black Women’s Health Imperative. “It’s the life course of women in our communities that is making us give birth prematurely to sick babies. The gap (between black and white women) persists because we haven’t done enough. We need to reframe the policy issues. We need to address maternal health first, then talk about infant mortality.”

It’s a great piece that also looks at the work of Byllye Avery, who stresses the intergenerational aspects of black women’s health and who founded the first Black Women’s Health Imperative. She now runs the Avery Institute for Social Change, which brings together health activists, strategists, community advocates and scholars for constructive dialogue on health disparities and health care reform.

Plus: Also from Women’s eNews, a look at the call for billions to reduce maternal mortality at the G-8 economic summit — Pat Sheffield at RH Reality Check reports on how it went; and an article in a series on the status of U.S. women looks at the growing ranks of poor single mothers since the 1996 welfare overhaul.

And also at RH Reality Check, Miriam Perez looks at “The Myth of the Elective C-Section,” which references “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth.

A Giant Fumble: Moving on to child care, what’s up with Google?

AMA Apologizes for Past Racism: The American Medical Association on Thursday “formally apologized for more than a century of policies that excluded blacks from a group long considered the voice of American doctors,” writes AP medical writer Lindsey Tanner. “The apology is among initiatives at the nation’s largest doctors’ group to reduce racial disparities in medicine and to recruit more blacks to become doctors and to join the AMA.”

Read the full statement.

When a Mammogram Isn’t Enough: The Wall Street Journal reports on the use of MRIs and ultrasounds to help detect breast cancer in women who have a higher risk of the disease. These methods are more sensitive, but the downside is that they also have a higher rate of false-positives, which can lead to unnecessary stress and biopsies.

Should Doctors Lecture Patients About Their Weight?: Well looks at a recent blog post by “Dr. Rob” (Dr. Robert Lambert of Georgia) at Musings of a Distractible Mind. A whopping 600-plus comments follow. Here’s one of the good ones, as is the one that follows it.

Father’s Age Also a Factor in Fertility: Also from Well. Ah, the cultural implications …

Open Letter to Obama: Lynda Waddington of Essential Estrogen and the Iowa Independent offers her personal story about late-term abortion.

Death of an Activist: Via Viva La Feminista, news of the death of Jana Mackey, a 25-year-old law student and feminist activist who wanted to be an advocate for victims of domestic violence. She was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

Plus: New York’s domestic violence law is about to be expanded. According to The New York Times: “The new law would make it possible for people in dating relationships, heterosexual or gay, to seek protection from abusers in family court. As it stands, New York has one of the narrowest domestic violence laws in the country, allowing for civil protection orders only against spouses or former spouses, blood relations or the other parent of an abused person’s child.”

Eating at the Farm: I’m in Vermont this week — trying to eat locally as much as possible, same as we do in Chicago during the short-but-sweet growing season — and I have to give a shout-out to Pizza On Earth, where not only does the pizza come topped with farm-fresh ingredients, but you can pick up your share of fruit and vegetables from Stony Loam Farm when you pick up your pie. Or stay and eat outdoors overlooking the rows of vegetables, flowers and herbs.

We ordered the week’s pizza special, curry squash (sounds awful but it was good) and left with a bunch of (free!) garlic scapes.

The New York Times yesterday looked at the growth of community supported agriculture (or CSA) groups around the country and the benefits to members and farmers. One of the unexpected benefits is being introduced to seasonal food you might not otherwise try. If it’s in my bag, I’m going to try to use it, whereas at the farmers market or supermarket I’m more likely to skip over foods I don’t recognize.

You can find a local CSA and other farm subscriptions at Local Harvest.

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