A University of Iowa study finds health care professionals need to develop better strategies to reduce pregnancy-related deaths among black women. The research compared the “maternal mortality” rates of thousands of black and white women between 1979 and ’86. U-of-I epidemiology professor Audrey Saftlas is the study’s lead author.Professor Saftlas says women at the highest risk of dying during pregnancy showed -no- racial gap. Those at high risk were classified as those who bore four or more children, at least one of which had a low birth weight.The contrast was at the other end of the spectrum. Women who were considered at low risk of maternal mortality were three-and-a-half times more likely to die if they were black. Saftlas says women who were considered “low risk” were those who bore three or fewer children, all of normal birth weight. She says there may be several reasons for the numbers. She says black women may be coming in for pre-natal care later when their condition is more severe or they may be coming in promptly but are not getting high quality care. The study is being published this month in the American Journal of Epidemiology.