Los Angeles Times

The quiet crisis among African-Americans: Pregnancy and childbirth are killing women at inexplicable rates

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas - Three weeks after Cassaundra Lynn Perkins gave birth to premature twins, she returned to the hospital, feeling unwell. She phoned her mother from her hospital bed at 3:30 in the morning.

"I'm just not feeling good," she said.

Surely it was just another bout of the mysterious illness her daughter had been suffering from for most of her pregnancy, Cheryl Givens-Perkins thought as she rushed over to San Antonio's North Central Baptist Hospital.

When Givens-Perkins walked into the room, her 21-year-old daughter looked exhausted. She begged her mother to comb her hair.

"I need to get ready," she said. "Please get my hair in order."

"She may have known she was dying," Givens-Perkins said.

Every year, around 700 women in the United States die as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications. As many as 60,000 expectant mothers suffer problems that come close to costing them their lives.

America is one of the most developed nations in the world.

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