As we aim to improve overall health outcomes, health equity needs to be at the forefront of those conversations, especially when it comes to maternal health and low birth weight disparities.

Health disparities are connected to social, economic, and environmental conditions known as social determinants of health (SDOH) – nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes. These factors have a major impact on an individual’s overall health.

Black Maternal Health Week takes place April 11 through April 17 and is a time to look more closely at how health disparities exist before, during, and after pregnancy for Black parents.

In the 2024 County Health Rankings, 9-percent of babies born in Cambria County had a low birth weight (under 5 pounds 8 ounces) compared to 8-percent of babies born in Pennsylvania and the United States.

While Cambria County’s number isn’t much higher than the state or country, there is a large disparity when comparing Black and White babies. In Cambria County, 20-percent of Non-Hispanic Black babies were considered low birth weight versus 8-percent of Non-Hispanic White babies.

In “wealthy” nations, the United States is an outlier.

The 2020 average maternal mortality rate of all high-income countries was 12 deaths per 100,000 live births. The United Sates, however, had 24 deaths per 100,000 live births. The numbers are even worse for Black birthing people.

Moving ahead to 2021, the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is 2.6 times the rate for non-Hispanic White women.

Looking at other indicators for poor health outcomes, 65-percent of births to Black mothers were covered by Medicaid compared to 40-percent of U.S. births. Access to quality care for Black birthing people is limited.

The Community Care HUB, an initiative of the Center for Population Health, is focused on finding individuals who have social determinants of health needs (SDOH) and assisting participants with connections to services and resources to alleviate some stress. With Community Health Workers (CHWs), pregnant women have advocates in their corner to give them the best chance at a healthy pregnancy and a healthy birth outcome.

The HUB works with pregnant people in Cambria or Somerset counties who are receiving or are eligible for medical assistance and/or pregnant women living in Cambria or Somerset counties diagnosed with gestational diabetes.


Low Birthweight | County Health Rankings & Roadmaps

Maternal Mortality Rate in U.S. Worsens | Commonwealth Fund

Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2021 (

Njoku, Anuli et al. “Listen to the Whispers before They Become Screams: Addressing Black Maternal Morbidity and Mortality in the United States.” Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 11,3 438. 3 Feb. 2023, doi:10.3390/healthcare11030438

Listen to the Whispers before They Become Screams: Addressing Black Maternal Morbidity and Mortality in the United States – PMC (