Developing Tools to Report Racism in Maternal Health for the CDC Maternal Mortality Review Information Application (MMRIA): Findings from the MMRIA Racism & Discrimination Working Group

Rachel R. Hardeman, Anna Kheyfets, Allison Bryant Mantha, Andria Cornell, Joia Crear-Perry, Cornelia Graves, William Grobman, Sascha James-Conterelli, Camara Jones, Breana Lipscomb, Carla Ortique, Alison Stuebe, Kaprice Welsh, Elizabeth A. Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this report from the field is to describe the process by which an multidisciplinary workgroup, selected by the CDC Foundation in partnership with maternal health experts, developed a definition of racism that would be specifically appropriate for inclusion on the Maternal Mortality Review Information Application (MMRIA) form. Description: In the United States Black women are nearly 4 times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death. Recent evidence points to racism as a fundamental cause of this inequity. Furthermore, the CDC reports that 3 of 5 pregnancy related deaths are preventable. With these startling facts in mind, the CDC created the Maternal Mortality Review Information Application (MMRIA) for use by Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRC) to support standardized data abstraction, case narrative development, documentation of committee decisions, and analysis on maternal mortality to inform practices and policies for preventing maternal mortality. Assessment: Charged with the task of defining racism and discrimination as contributors to pregnancy related mortality, the work group established four goals to define their efforts: (1) the desire to create a product that was inclusive of all forms of racism and discrimination experienced by birthing people; (2) an acknowledgement of the legacy of racism in the U.S. and the norms in health care delivery that perpetuate racist ideology; (3) an acknowledgement of the racist narratives surrounding the issue of maternal mortality and morbidity that often leads to victim blaming; and (4) that the product would be user friendly for MMRCs. Conclusion: The working group developed three definitions and a list of recommendations for action to help MMRC members provide suggested interventions to adopt when discrimination or racism were contributing factors to a maternal death. The specification of these definitions will allow the systematic tracking of the contribution of racism to maternal mortality through the MMRIA and allow a greater standardization of its identification across participating jurisdictions with MMRCs that use the form.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-669
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Discrimination
  • Health equity
  • Maternal morbidity
  • Maternal mortality
  • Racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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