Health Disparities in Reproductive Health and Midwifery

A health disparity is a difference in the health outcomes between two groups, which is avoidable and unjust. Health disparities often affect groups that are marginalized by society. They can be the result of institutionalized racism, structural violence, limited access to health care services, and/or disparate quality of care.

According to 2003 data from the Center for Disease Control, the infant mortality rate for non-Hispanic and Hispanic white Americans is 5.7 per 1,000 live births, while the comparable statistic for the African American population in the United States is more than double, 13.5 per 1,000 live births. Many have attributed this rate to higher rates of poverty among the African American community, which is a symptom of institutional racism, but this difference persists even when researchers control for income, educational attainment, age, and marital status. This is one example of a health disparity whose cause is still under debate, but several scholars have proposed that this disparate rate of infant mortality is either due to the psychosocial effects of racism or the cumulative result of life circumstances, limited resources, and racism.