2023 edition — Quality of care: Maternal health and birth


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Over the last few decades, the measurement and reporting of health care quality outcomes has grown significantly. As health care evolves, it is important to continue to monitor and report on the quality of care delivered to patients in California and across the US. This set of quality measures is part of a series CHCF publishes about the quality of care in the state. Topics range from maternal to end-of-life care and include measures of behavioral health, chronic conditions, and providers.

This set of quality measures focuses on maternal health and childbirth.

American Indian and Alaska Native infants and black infants were more likely to be born preterm than infants of other races/ethnicities.

About one in eight American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) babies and black babies were born prematurely in 2020. Almost one in eight black babies were born with a low birth weight. Babies born prematurely or with a low birth weight have an increased risk of lifelong health problems or dying before their first birthday.

Infant mortality rates vary by race/ethnicity.

In 2019, Black, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander and AIAN infants had higher mortality rates than infants of other races/ethnicities. Only Asian, White, and multiracial infants had mortality rates below the Let’s Get Healthy California target of 4.0 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Black births had a higher pregnancy-related death rate than births of other races/ethnicities.

From 2017 to 2019, black births died of pregnancy-related causes at rates three to four times higher than births of other races/ethnicities.

Prenatal and postpartum depressive symptoms were reported by approximately one in five Black births.

About one in seven people giving birth in California reported experiencing symptoms of prenatal depression, and about one in eight reported experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression from 2018 to 2020. Black birth people were more likely to report both prenatal and postpartum depressive symptoms than birth people of other races/ethnicities. Antenatal and postpartum depression can negatively affect the birth person and child.

The companion Excel data file is available for download below. This material is part of CHCF’s California Health Care Almanac, an online clearinghouse for key data and analysis describing the state’s health care landscape. See our entire collection of current and past issues of Quality of Care.