Birth complications can arise weeks after leaving the hospital

By Regence
June 11, 2024
mother kissing child

New BCBSA study reveals that one-third of birth complications happen after patients go home, with Black patients most affected

When a new parent leaves the hospital after delivering their baby, they might think the hardest part is over. But a recent study shows that's not always the case. In fact, many serious birth complications can arise weeks after parent and baby have gone home. And Black pregnant people experience these complications at a rate of 87% higher than white patients.

The study looked at data from over 700,000 births covered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield commercial health plans nationwide, as well as over 1.5 million births covered by Medicaid. The results were alarming: In both groups, Black and Latinx people were more likely to experience serious birth complications than white people.

Additional key findings from the study:

  • Racial disparities increase with age: birth complications for Black patients ages 35 to 44 are more than twice as high as for white patients.
  • Six specific health events account for more than 75% of birth complications. These include sepsis, eclampsia and acute renal failure among others.

These findings underscore the need for a drastic change in the health care system, a key reason Regence is partnering with health care providers and investing in our communities to create a better health care system for everyone. Learn more about our efforts to improve maternal health for our members: Bridging the gap in maternal health: Regence takes action for Black moms.

Cambia Health Foundation, our corporate foundation, is also working to advance equity through whole-person health. Since 2022, the Foundation has invested nearly $300,000 in integrating physical, behavioral and social supports to advance birth equity for Black parents and families. The Foundation partners with community organizations to reduce maternal health disparities and increase behavioral health access, including supporting diversification of the behavioral health workforce. A few of the Foundation’s community partners include: Community Health Acceleration Partnership, Byrd Barr Place, Shades of Motherhood and The Health Equity Institute, a joint initiative between Seattle Children’s Hospital and University of Washington School of Medicine.

You can read the full BCBSA report, "Improving Postpartum Maternal Health Outcomes," to learn more about the findings and what they mean for new parents.


The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is a national federation of independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans.