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Lost in the Desert


Almost a quarter of Mississippians live in a maternity healthcare desert. As more and more hospitals cut services, including maternity services, being a mother and an infant is a risking proposition for too many in the state. The definition of a maternity care desert used by the March of Dimes includes counties without hospitals providing obstetrics, OB/GYN practices or certified nurse-midwives.


Here’s a look at Mississippi by numbers and demographics:


• 23.6% (8,484 births) of the state's births to parents who live in maternal health care deserts


• 23.5% of the state lives in a maternal health care desert


• 23.8% of state's white population lives in a maternal health care desert


• 23.9% of state's Black population lives in a maternal health care desert


• 51.3% of state's Native American population lives in a maternal health care desert


• 19.1% of state's Hispanic population lives in a maternal health care desert


• 11.9% of state's Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population lives in a maternal health care desert


• 5.6% of state's Asian population lives in a maternal health care desert


Mississippi has the highest infant mortality rate in the country. The state also leads the nation in the number of babies born below the optimal birth weight. Additionally, a bill died in the state House of Representatives earlier this year that would have extended postpartum Medicaid coverage for the 60 percent of moms in the state who give birth while on Medicaid. The bill would have provided coverage for a year after delivery. Currently the coverage is two months. These have been persistent problems plaguing the state and Mississippians deserve for them to be addressed and changed.


Healthcare providers and advocates are raising the call and increasing the awareness about this disparity. Those who provide maternity care want to help the patients who are in need. If children are the future, then the future is uncertain for far too many of Mississippi’s most vulnerable.


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