On Aug. 9, the Oregon Center for Public Policy released an analysis revealing that half of all single mothers of color, including Latina, Black and Native American moms in Oregon, are living in poverty amid COVID-19.

The pandemic is poised to make an existing inequity worse.

Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women in the U.S., says a 2015 report by Oregon Health & Science University. In Oregon and Multnomah County, the inequalities are the same.

About one third of Black moms in Multnomah County reported symptoms of depression while pregnant—the highest rate—while less than half that proportion of white moms experienced depression, according to a 2014 report from the Multnomah County Health Department.

Black women delivered the most children with a low birth weight and the most babies born prematurely. Black and Native American moms had the highest number of infant deaths, at 10.1 per 1,000 live births, nearly double the percentage of all other racial demographics.

Part of the reason for this disparity? The health care and education that expectant mothers received throughout pregnancy.

Black and Latina mothers were the least likely of all racial and ethnic demographics to receive early and adequate prenatal care, and they also took the least amount of daily vitamins or folic acid during their pregnancy term.

Not only do mothers of color face the harshest complications before, during and after birth, but they also have the highest rates of poverty, limiting their options for quality reproductive health care. LATISHA JENSEN.

Correction: The infant death rates among Black and Native American mothers is 10.1 out of 1,000 live births, not 10.1%. WW regrets the error. 

This reporting has been funded in part by a grant from the Jackson Foundation. See more Black and White in Oregon stories here.