A need to end discrimination: ethnicity and class

The report, the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH): Why Mothers Die (2004), outlines increased risk factors for women from some minority ethnic groups, as well as for economically disadvantaged women.

  • For women from some minority ethnic groups, the risk of maternal death was twice that for a white woman.
  • Women from ethnic minority groups made initial contact with maternity services later than their white counterparts.
  • Mortality rates among refugees and asylum-seekers are particularly high.
  • Questions raised as to whether maternity services are inaccessible for reasons such as distance, cost or socio-cultural barriers.

Staggeringly, the most disadvantaged women are 20 times more likely to die than those from higher socio-economic backgrounds, and women from ethnic groups other than white are three times more likely to die.

Given that untreated postnatal depression can have a detrimental affect on a child's development - with all the challenges this can entail - it is clear that perinatal mental health can also impact on the life chances of children and young people, potentially undermining initiatives such as the Every Child Matters strategy.

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