Pregnancy-related deaths increase in United States, especially among blacks

Maricruz Casares
May 11, 2019

It could be a chain of events that are triggered or activated by the pregnancy, its physiological effects and its complications.

Of the 700 pregnancy-related deaths that occur in the US each year, about 31 percent happen during pregnancy, 36 percent happen during delivery or the week after birth and 33 percent occur one week to one year after delivery, the report states.

Almost 31% of the deaths happen during pregnancy, and another 36% occur during delivery or the week after. Different conditions and contributing factors led to deaths at the various benchmark times during pregnancy and after birth.

The new report compiles pregnancy mortality data from 2011-2015, and 13 state committee reviews of maternal mortality from 2013-2017.

In the US, almost 700 women die every year due to pregnancy-related complications.

The report also found "persistent racial disparities", according to the CDC. "Though most pregnancies progress safely, I urge the public health community to increase awareness with all expectant and new mothers about the signs of serious pregnancy complications and the need for preventative care that can and does save lives".

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According to USA Today, this national maternal mortality data joins to the growing evidence that more than half of deaths can be prevented.

The C.D.C. report outlines almost 40 strategies for lowering the U.S.' unprecedented maternal mortality rate.

'The rise we're seeing in maternal deaths is largely due to acquired cardiac disease in pregnancy, ' said Lisa Hollier, MD, former president of ACOG. Some of these include lack of access to adequate health care facilities, delayed or missed diagnosis of pregnancy related emergencies, lack of knowledge among the patients as well as health care providers.

'Most of these deaths are preventable, but we are missing opportunities to identify risk factors prior to pregnancy and there are often delays in recognizing symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum, particularly for black women. Heart disease and strokes caused more than a third of pregnancy-related deaths, according to the CDC. At delivery the commonest causes of death include severe bleeding and amniotic fluid embolism. "Cardiomyopathy was the most common cause of death in the late postpartum period (43-365 days postpartum)", the report states.

Another step in the right direction would be more maternal mortality review committees, and the director of the CDC's Division of Reproductive Health, RADM Wanda Barfield, MD, said that this fall, the CDC will be supporting as many as 25 maternal mortality review committees that can inform data-driven action and eliminate preventable maternal adults.

About 700 women die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth every year, but the CDC found that 60 percent of these deaths could have been prevented. Communities and state can contribute in providing adequate housing and transportation especially for high risk pregnancies. "There are big-picture, systems-level changes that could help ensure all pregnant women receive high-quality care during pregnancy, at delivery and up to a year afterward". The CDC along with collaborators also started "Review to Action", a website that had resources to support MMRCs.

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