Black mothers, babies at increased risk for complications and premature birth in Harris County

HOUSTON – The March of Dimes annually releases grades for counties in Texas for their preterm birth rates. Harris County always stands out as bad for premature birth rates. This year, the county received a grade F.

This is particularly troubling for Black women who are three times more likely to die during childbirth.

Brittany Teagle, of Pasadena, said she had gestational diabetes and worried how the complication would hurt her pregnancy.

“I instantly blamed myself, you know? I didn’t know much about it but it’s nothing that the mom has done wrong,” Teagle said.

She discovered during prenatal visits that Black mothers are more likely to face a complication like gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.

Dr. Rosalyn Gayle, an OBGYN at HCA Southeast, said the United States is one of the most medically advanced countries in the developed world but still has the highest rate and maternal mortality of developed countries.

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

Preeclampsia, obesity and the lack of resources before pregnancy are some of the reasons Dr. Gayle thinks this is happening.

“Prior to pregnancy, 39% of Black women have hypertension so this is a really big problem in our area,” Dr. Gayle said.

She said this needs to be a bigger focus among minority mothers and anyone around them who can recognize signs of a complication.

“Swelling in the face, frequent complaints of headaches or even pain on the right where the liver is located … that’s a sign of severe preeclampsia,” Dr. Gayle said.

Teagle said she was able to control her gestational diabetes with a strict diet. Her new baby, Genesis, was worth all the hard work.

With help form her doctor, Dr. Liliana Kanu, Genesis was born Monday.

“We were trying for about five years but we were unsuccessful for all those years,” Teagle explained. “We just kind of stopped trying and stopped worrying about it and we moved out here in June and I found out I was pregnant in July. So, Genesis is our blessing baby. We had been praying for her for a long time.”

MARCH OF DIMES INITIATIVES

Nurses and pharmacists:

Thursday April 14, 2022, noon-1 p.m. on the TSU Campus, College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, Gray Hall Room 110

3 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Virtual Presentation Via Zoom Register for the live or virtual events at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LDAApril14

New moms:

Thursday, APRIL 21, 2022 Understanding Racism & How it Impacts the Health of Moms and Babies in the U.S. More information on this can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/events/928801114459705

March for Babies: A Mother of A Movement - Events

Houston – Sunday April 24, 9 a.m., 3875 Holman

Fort Bend – Saturday April 30, 9 a.m., 1 Stadium Dr.

Montgomery County Saturday May 14, 9 a.m., Town Green Park