Maternal Health Inequity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Existing inequities in maternal mortality and serious morbidity rates in the United States may be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A smiling young mother holds her infant son, who has a pacifier in his mouth.

Maternal mortality and serious morbidity rates are considerably higher in the United States than in other wealthy nations, and women of color are bearing the brunt of this crisis.

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Past Event

October 28, 2020

A diverse group of experts discussed addressing maternal health inequity during the pandemic. Recording to follow.


This series of reports draws on insights from interviews with maternal health program and policy experts, prenatal care providers, advocates, and funders, as well as a scan of the research literature, policies, and initiatives at the community, state, and national levels.

Key Findings

  • Black and indigenous women are two to three times more likely to experience poor maternal and infant outcomes than white women in the United States.

  • The pandemic may be exacerbating racial and ethnic disparities in maternal mortality and morbidity.

  • Providers, health systems, and communities are adapting care delivery in these challenging times; and identify emerging innovations that could promote maternal health equity during and beyond the pandemic.

Maternal health experts across the country have identified ways providers, payers, and policymakers can reduce maternal mortality and racial disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes as the United States navigates the pandemic and plans for recovery.

An additional report in this series is coming soon:

  • The Pandemic Has Increased Demand for Data and Accountability to Decrease Maternal Health Inequity


About the Urban Institute

The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector. Visit the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center for more information specific to its staff and its recent research.