CDC: Significant disparities seen in maternity care


In a recent report, the CDC revealed significant rates of disparities among women receiving pregnancy and delivery care.

CDC: Significant disparities seen in maternity care | Image Credit: © Yakobchuk Olena - © Yakobchuk Olena -

CDC: Significant disparities seen in maternity care | Image Credit: © Yakobchuk Olena - © Yakobchuk Olena -

According to a recent report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 women experience mistreatment during pregnancy and delivery care.

Maternity care data was obtained from the Porter Novelli View Moms survey, which was completed by 2402 individuals from April 24 to April 30, 2023. Most of these patients experienced satisfaction with maternity care, but mistreatment rates were high among those who did not experience satisfaction.

The reports found disparities in maternal care based on race and ethnicity. Of Black women, 30% experienced mistreatment during maternity care, along with 29% of Hispanic women and 27% of multiracial women.

Of White women, 19% experience mistreatment during maternity care, compared to 15% of Asian women. Insurance type also impacted treatment during pregnancy, with mistreatment at the time of delivery reported in 28% of women with no insurance, 26% with public insurance, and 16% with private insurance.

Common mistreatment types included not receiving a response when asking for help, being yelled at or scolded, not having protected physical activity, and being threatened with unwanted or withheld treatment.

“As a healthcare community, we need to do all we can to make sure we are delivering equitable and respectful care to women during pregnancy and delivery,” said Debra Houry, MD, MPH, chief medical officer, CDC. “Health systems, hospitals, and providers can take steps to improve care and lower the risk of pregnancy-related complications and death for all women. These data show that we must do better to support moms.”

The CDC made recommendations on how respectful maternity care can be delivered. These included actions from health care systems, health care professionals, and everyone. A step which could be taken by everyone is supporting pregnant and postpartum women in getting the care they need.

Health care systems can improve maternity care by encouraging a respectful culture, maintaining a diverse workforce, and promoting quality improvement actions focused on respectful maternity care for all women equally. Health care professionals can improve maternity care by helping patients feel understood, respected, and valued during care.

“We know that racism and discrimination can lead to delays in treatment and sometimes tragic and preventable deaths,” saidWanda Barfield, MD, MPH, FAAP, CDC Division of Reproductive Health Director. “Healthcare provider trainings on unconscious bias and culturally appropriate care may be a first step in understanding how to provide respectful maternity care to all women.”


One in 5 women reported mistreatment while receiving maternity care. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 22, 2023. Accessed August 25, 2023.

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