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  • Writer's pictureRodney Hess

Bridging the Gap: AI's Role in Addressing Black Maternal Health Disparities

Harnessing the Power of Artificial Intelligence to Serve Underserved Communities

Racial disparities in maternal and infant health continue to persist in the United States, with Black women experiencing higher rates of pregnancy-related deaths, preterm births, and low birthweight births than White women [1]. As we mark Black Maternal Health Week 2023 (April 11-17) under the theme "Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy!" [BMMA], the potential of generative AI to help address these disparities and serve underserved communities is worth exploring.


The Persistent Racial Disparities in Maternal Health

Despite decades of research and policy efforts, racial disparities in maternal health remain a pressing issue in the US:

  • Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from childbirth than non-Hispanic white women [2]

  • Infants born to Black mothers have higher mortality rates [1]

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these disparities, highlighting the urgent need for action [1]


How AI Can Help Address Black Maternal Health Disparities

Artificial intelligence (AI) has shown promise in tackling these health disparities in various ways:

  1. Identifying risk factors: By analyzing electronic health records (EHRs), AI can identify risk factors for pregnancy-related complications, enabling early interventions [3]

  2. Analyzing social determinants of health (SDOH): AI can assess factors such as race, income level, and access to medical care, identifying patients at higher risk of poor maternal outcomes and allowing providers to intervene [3]

  3. Predicting patient compliance: AI can predict which patients are likely to miss appointments or not follow treatment recommendations, enabling providers to support patients in staying on track with their care [3]

For AI to effectively address Black maternal health disparities, it is crucial to ensure accurate data collection and representation of diverse groups, particularly Black communities [3].


Black Maternal Health Week 2023: A Call to Action

The Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) leads the annual Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW) campaign to build awareness, activism, and community-building, amplifying the voices and experiences of Black mothers and birthing people. The 2023 theme, "Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy!" emphasizes the importance of culturally-congruent practices, including Black Midwifery care and Black-led Doula care, as evidence-based solutions for improving Black maternal health outcomes [BMMA].


During this year's Black Maternal Health Week, it is essential to explore how AI can support and enhance Black Midwifery care and Black-led Doula care in achieving the goals of BMMA:

  • Supporting midwives and doulas: AI can assist in streamlining administrative tasks and managing patient data, allowing midwives and doulas to focus on providing personalized care and support to Black mothers and birthing people.

  • Facilitating communication: AI-powered communication tools can help bridge the gap between healthcare providers, midwives, doulas, and patients, fostering a collaborative approach to care and ensuring that the needs and preferences of Black mothers and birthing people are heard and respected.

  • Educating and empowering: AI can be used to develop targeted educational resources and support tools for Black mothers and birthing people, empowering them with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions about their care.

By integrating AI into Black Midwifery care and Black-led Doula care, we can enhance these culturally-congruent practices and further address the disparities faced by Black mothers and birthing people:

  • Tailoring care plans: AI can assist midwives and doulas in creating customized care plans for each patient, considering individual health profiles and social determinants of health to optimize outcomes for Black mothers and their babies.

  • Monitoring health trends: AI can help midwives and doulas track health trends and identify potential issues in real-time, enabling them to proactively address emerging concerns and adapt care plans as needed.

  • Measuring impact: By leveraging AI to analyze outcomes and measure the impact of Black Midwifery care and Black-led Doula care on maternal and infant health, we can better understand their effectiveness and continue refining these approaches to best serve Black communities.

As we mark Black Maternal Health Week, we must recognize the potential of generative AI in addressing the racial disparities plaguing maternal and infant health in the US. By harnessing the power of AI and integrating it into culturally-congruent care practices like Black Midwifery care and Black-led Doula care, we can work towards a future where all mothers and birthing people, regardless of race or background, receive the quality care they need and deserve.

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