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North Carolina Institutions Awarded $2.3 Million to Study How to Improve Pregnancy Outcomes

A team from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill) has been awarded a $2.3 million grant to study how to improve outcomes among women who are more likely to experience pregnancy complications due to poor heart health.Nc A&t

The grant, from the American Heart Association, is for four years. The project, Building Equitable Linkages with Interprofessional Education Valuing Everyone (BELIEVE), aims at assessing gaps in current practices, creating a curriculum to address said gaps, and implementing it across a network of hospital and community providers.

In 2020, the maternal mortality rate for Black women in the U.S. was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, exceeding the national maternal mortality rates in more than 100 countries, according to Janiya Mitnaul Williams, director of the Human Lactation Program at N.C. A&T and one of the leaders of the project.

“The overarching goal of our work is to transform perinatal and reproductive health services so that each mother, birthing person, and health team member is seen, heard and valued,” said Williams. “The curriculum that we create will help to establish trust and healing from birth-related trauma and professional moral injury, and share it with a national audience.

“Through this training, birthing people, community members, and health team members will be able to engage in holistic, person-centered, collaborative care that can reverse the structural racism and mistrust that drives disparities in maternal and infant outcomes," she continued.

Williams said pre-eclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, is the most prominent killer of Black women during pregnancy or postpartum. And systemic racism is one of the contributors to high blood pressure.

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