Researchers at University of Illinois Chicago Awarded $9.9 Million for Black Midwives Program

A new health care program developed by University of Illinois Chicago researchers and Melanated Group Midwifery Care, or MGMC, that aims to combat disparities that affect maternal and infant outcomes for Black pregnant people has received $9.9 million in funding.

The five-year award was granted by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, or PCORI, an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions.

Black women are four times as likely to die from complications related to pregnancy or birth, compared with white women, and an estimated two-thirds of those deaths could be prevented. Because of structural racism, Black women face barriers to high-quality maternity care and support, resulting in less trust and engagement with the health care system, according to the project’s proposal.

“No single intervention has been shown to move the bar on maternal morbidity and mortality, especially for Black pregnant people. We need to change the whole paradigm, beginning with centering the needs and expertise of Black mothers,” said Kylea Liese, UIC assistant professor of human development nursing science and co-principal investigator.

The program is part of a study that will compare the usual maternity care received by most people to a new care model that combines strategies to improve Black people’s experiences and outcomes during pregnancy and postpartum.

“We know the racial concordant care model is successful in all ethnicities, yet there is a lack of melanated midwives. We hope this study will highlight the importance of color and advocating for diversity,” said Karie Stewart, UIC adjunct faculty member and the study’s lead co-investigator. Stewart, who also is the director of midwifery services at the University of Chicago, runs Melanated Midwives, a not-for-profit organization that supports and promotes the diversification of the midwifery workforce, and the project’s community partner.

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SOURCE: UIC Today, Lori Botterman

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