Nov 4th 2018

Inequities for Maori, Pacific and Indian mothers and babies [PMMRC Report, 2018]

The latest report of the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee (PMMRC, 2018) shows inequities for Maori, Pacific and Indian mothers and babies. There were significantly higher neonatal death rates for babies without congenital anomalies of Maori, Pacific and Indian mothers compared to mothers of Other Asian, Other European and New Zealand European ethnic groupings. After accounting for the effects of maternal age, body mass index (BMI), socioeconomic status, parity, smoking, multiple pregnancy, baby sex, and year of birth, there remained a higher risk of death after birth at 20 to 24 weeks gestation among babies of Maori, Pacific and Indian mothers, which suggests that there were other factors increasing risk for these women. 

More babies of Maori, Pacific and Indian mothers are born extremely preterm and so these ethnic groups are disproportionately affected by suboptimal care for mothers and babies at these gestations. This is compounded if there are also inequities in provision of care by ethnicity. The PMMRC recommends cultural competency training for maternity and neonatal health workforces as well as promoting improvement strategies that might engage with priority population service users and their needs.

The report also highlights the inequity in mortality outcomes for Maori, Pacific and Indian mothers. There are inequities in perinatal related death rates by ethnicity and socioeconomic deprivation. Pacific and Indian mothers have the highest rates of perinatal related mortality. The PMMRC recommends that a national pathway for accessing maternal mental health services, including: cultural appropriateness to ensure equity of service access and provision; appropriate screening; care for women with a history of mental illness and communication and coordination.