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Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Division

Centering Black Mothers in California​

Black family

The Centering Black Mothers in California report shows how social policies, structural racism, and community and neighborhood conditions impact the health of Black birthing people and babies. In California and across the United States, Black mothers experience some of the highest rates of life-threatening childbirth complications, deaths from pregnancy-related causes, and babies born too early or too small.

The report was informed by Black women leaders and community members in California. Their unique insights helped develop the findings and recommendations to improve the health outcomes of Black mothers and babies. 

Here’​s what you need to know:

  • Black birthing people in California are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than other racial and ethnic groups.
  • The rate of life-threatening childbirth complications is highest among Black women.
  • The preterm birth rate among Black infants did not improve between 2011 and 2019.
  • Black infants are twice as likely as other infants to die before their first birthday.
  • The report links structural racism to health in three ways: 1) Neighborhood conditions that are influenced by discriminatory policies,1-23  2) chronic stress created by racism and racist policies,4-56  and 3) lack of access to high-quality, respectful health care.7-89




Check out the one-pager for an in-depth overview of the report.

Learn More (PDF)


Read the full report to learn more about Black maternal and infant health in California.

Full Re​port (PDF, 12MB)

Executive Summary​

Read the executive summary to learn more about the Centering Black Mothers in California report.

Learn M​ore (PDF)

Social Me​dia

Download and provide these materials to mothers, parents, and families in your community​​​.​



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  1. Rothstein R. The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. Liveright; 2017.
  2. Mitchell B, Franco J. HOLC “redlining” maps: the persistent structure of segregation and economic inequality. 2018.​
  3. Aaronson D, Hartley D, Mazumder B. The Effects of the 1930s HOLC “Redlining” Maps. American Economic J​ournal: Economic Policy. 2021;13(4):355-92. doi:10.1257/pol.20190414
  4. Bailey ZD, Krieger N, Agénor M, Graves J, Linos N, Bassett MT. Structural racism and health inequities in the USA: evidence and interventions. The Lancet. 2017;389(10077):1453-1463. doi:10.1016/s0140- 6736(17)30569-x
  5. Williams DR, Mohammed SA. Racism and Health I: Pathways and Scientific Evidence. Am Behav Sci. Aug 1 2013;57(8)doi:10.1177/0002764213487340
  6. Dominguez TP. Race, racism, and racial disparities in adverse birth outcomes. Clin Obstet Gynecol. Jun 2008;51(2):360-70. doi:10.1097/GRF.0b013e31816f28de
  7. Crear-Perry J, Correa-de-Araujo R, Lewis Johnson T, McLemore MR, Neilson E, Wallace M. Social and Structural Determinants of Health Inequities in Maternal Health. J Womens Health (Larchmt). Feb 2021;30(2):230-235. doi:10.1089/jwh.2020.8882
  8. Institute of Medicine Committee on Understanding and Eliminating Racial Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. National Academies Press (US); 2003.
  9. Black Mamas Matter Alliance. Setting the standard for holistic care of and for Black women. 2018.​​

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