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1 in 5 women report mistreatment during maternity care, according to CDC report

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Twenty percent of women report mistreatment during pregnancy and delivery care, according to new survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The CDC's Vital Signs report, published Tuesday, analyzed data from more than 2,400 respondents using the Porter Novelli View Moms survey administered April 24-30 of this year. 

In addition to mistreatment, the data showed even more respondents (29%) reported discrimination during maternity care, including age, weight and income-based discrimination. Race and ethnicity were also an elevating factor to both mistreatment and discrimination. 

"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," Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "Bias, stigma, and mistreatment have no place in our healthcare systems."

Mistreatment and discrimination were higher among Black, Hispanic and multiracial women, the survey found. 

The survey also found disparities among insurance types —women with public or no insurance experienced more mistreatment during delivery than women with private insurance.

"As a doctor, mother, and Black woman, it is disheartening to hear how common mistreatment is and to see differences in mistreatment and discrimination during maternity care based on things like race and insurance coverage," Dr. Wanda Barfield, director of the CDC's Division of Reproductive Health, said in the release. "We know that racism and discrimination can lead to delays in treatment and sometimes tragic and preventable deaths. Healthcare provider trainings on unconscious bias and culturally appropriate care may be a first step in understanding how to provide respectful maternity care to all women."

The CDC says the most common types of mistreatment reported were:

  • Receiving no response to requests for help
  • Being shouted at or scolded
  • Not having their physical privacy protected
  • Being threatened with withholding treatment or made to accept unwanted treatment

This isn't the first time maternity care has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Last year, CBS News reported on how millions of women in United States lack access to maternity care, and even those who do have access don't always survive.

According to a study published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, maternal deaths across the U.S. more than doubled over the course of two decades, and the tragedy unfolded unequally.

Black mothers died at the nation's highest rates, while the largest increases in deaths were found in American Indian and Native Alaskan mothers. And some states —and racial or ethnic groups within them— fared worse than others.

Maternal mortality rates among Black women have long been the worst in the nation, and the problem affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds —a fact that received renewed attention after U.S. Olympic champion sprinter Tori Bowie, 32, died from complications of childbirth in May.

-The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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