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J Urban Health. 2000 Dec;77(4):735-44.

Maternal mortality in New York City: excess mortality of black women.

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Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


To assess maternal mortality in New York City, birth certificates and mortality records for New York City from 1988 through 1994 were linked and examined. During these 7 years, maternal mortality in New York City (defined by the International Classification of Diseases, 9th edition [ICD-9], as 630-676) per 100,000 live births significantly exceeded that of the country as a whole (20.2 vs. 8.2, respectively). Within New York City, an even greater variation of maternal mortality by race/ethnicity was noted, with the mortality ratio of whites, blacks, and Hispanics being 7.1, 39.5, and 14.4 per 100,000 live births, respectively. Socioeconomic characteristics such as educational attainment, marital status, and income influenced maternal mortality more in non-blacks than blacks. Analyses of cause-specific mortality revealed that, overall, ectopic pregnancy, embolism, and hypertension were the leading causes of death. However, the major factors explaining the excess maternal mortality among blacks were hypertension (mortality ratio of blacks to whites 5.57, 95% confidence interval 2.30-13.39), ectopic pregnancy (4.78, 95% confidence interval 2.40-9.51), and abortion (4.58, 95% confidence interval 1.72-12.22). These findings confirm a persisting gap in maternal death between black and white women. Indeed, if all New Yorkers who became pregnant enjoyed the survival of the city's non-Hispanic white residents, the difference in maternal mortality between the city and the nation would be eliminated.

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