One in Five Women Experience Mistreatment During Maternity Care: CDC Report

The reported mistreatment was more common among Black, Hispanic and multiracial mothers

One in five women in the United States experienced mistreatment while receiving medical care during pregnancy and childbirth, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, released Tuesday, highlighted a survey conducted in April of 2,402 mothers asked to report overall satisfaction with the maternity care they received when delivering their youngest child.

Types of mistreatment that were reported included receiving no response to requests for help, being shouted at or scolded, not having their physical privacy protected, and being threatened with withholding treatment or forced to accept unwanted treatment.

Additionally, nearly 30% of women reported discrimination during maternity care based on age, weight, and income and varied by race/ethnicity.  The reported mistreatment was more common among Black, Hispanic and multiracial mothers.

“As a healthcare community, we need to do all we can to make sure we are delivering equitable and respectful care to women during pregnancy and delivery,” Dr. Debra Houry, CDC Chief Medical Officer, said in a release. “Health systems, hospitals, and providers can take steps to improve care and lower the risk of pregnancy-related complications and death for all women. These data show that we must do better to support moms.”

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Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

Related: United States Named the 'Most Dangerous' Developed Country for Women to Give Birth

“Every mother deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Maternal care is a core component of this nation’s health care, and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to improving maternal health outcomes,” added Xavier Becerra, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary. “Bias, stigma, and mistreatment have no place in our healthcare systems.”

Back in 2018, a USA Today investigation deemed the United States the “most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth” with maternal mortality rates soaring over the last 30 years.

The high rates of death were largely due to negligence by hospitals, doctors and nurses who fail to perform basic safety checks, like checking blood loss after delivery and monitoring high blood pressure.

The long-term study, led by Alison Young, followed similar research conducted by ProPublica and the New York Times, and found that more than 50,000 women are severely injured during childbirth each year, with an additional 700 women dying.

And despite medical advances, the rate of women dying before, during or after childbirth has more than doubled since the 1990s.

“In twenty-first century America, in the most powerful nation on Earth, no woman should ever die from pregnancy and childbirth,” Michael Lu, senior associate dean at George Washington University School of Public Health and former director of federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau, previously told PEOPLE.

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