Critical Term: Why are Black mothers and babies dying?

The latest WRAL doc "Critical Term: Why are black mothers and babies dying" shines a light on the maternal and infant health crisis.
Posted 2022-09-20T22:29:02+00:00 - Updated 2022-09-22T23:35:49+00:00

Black mothers and babies are dying from pregnancy-related complications at a rate alarmingly higher than other races.

​​Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth compared to white mothers who are similarly positioned, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

According to researchers, 60% of these deaths are preventable.

The latest WRAL Documentary, Critical Term: Why are Black Mothers and Babies Dying, shines a light on the maternal and infant health crisis and what local programs are working to lower this rate.

WRAL Investigative Documentary reporter and producer Cristin Severance and WRAL anchor and reporter Julian Grace set out to understand why this is happening in the Black community. Their investigation uncovered startling instances of systemic racism leading to misconceptions about Black women and myths about their pain tolerance still taught to healthcare providers in the modern era.

The maternal death rate in the U.S. is higher than all other wealthy countries. North Carolina ranks as the 10th worst state for infant deaths.

“As a longtime investigative reporter and mom of twins, I was aware this was a problem. But I had no idea it was this bad until we started digging into the numbers,” Severance said.

Severance teamed up with Grace, a father of four, to tell this important story.

“My wife and I have been through this four times," said Grace. "But I just didn’t realize the information that was out there and what women go through each day. Specifically, women who look like my wife."

The WRAL Documentary Team will also highlight the groundbreaking programs happening in North Carolina working to save moms and babies.

When and how to watch the documentary

The documentary will premiere on WRAL-TV on Thursday, September 22, at 7:30 p.m. It will be rebroadcast on WILM-TV in Wilmington on Sunday, September 25 at 8:30 a.m. and WRAZ FOX50 on Sunday, September 25, at 6 p.m.

It will premiere on WRAL’s YouTube on Thursday, September 22, at 8 p.m.

The documentary is available for on-demand viewing on, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, and Samsung Smart TV beginning Thursday, September 22, at 7:30 p.m.

You can follow Critical Term on social media using #wraldoc.