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UK black women have double the risk of pregnancy complications

UK black women have double the risk of pregnancy complications

In the UK, black Caribbean and black African women have twice as much risk of experiencing severe pregnancy complications than white women, according to research published today on BMJ.com.

The study, the first of its kind undertaken in the UK, also found that Pakistani women have a significantly higher risk of severe pregnancy-related health problems than white women. Today’s research reflects previous studies carried out in the USA, Canada and the Netherlands.

Using the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS), Dr Marian Knight from the University of Oxford and her team, investigated 686 cases of severe pregnancy-related complications out of a total of 775,186 maternities between February 2005 and February 2006. Complications included hysterectomy after childbirth, fits with high blood pressure (eclampsia) or blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism).

Dr Knight’s research concludes that non-white women are one and half times more at risk of experiencing severe pregnancy-related complications than white women. This risk doubles for black Caribbean and black African women.

Knight argues that the increased risk for non-white women may be because of pre-existing medical factors or because of care during pregnancy, labour and birth and is unlikely to be due to the socio-economic situation of the woman or whether she smoked or was obese.

She says the research “highlights to clinicians and policy-makers the importance of tailored maternity services and improved access to care for ethnic minority women”.

BMJ

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