New U.S. Maternal Death Rate Numbers Released

mother dies in childbirth

New CDC Report Shows U.S. Maternal Death Rate is Still Terrible

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System, for the first time in more than a decade, has released a new estimate of the maternal death rate in the U.S., and the numbers aren’t good. After a plea from medical researchers and women’s advocate groups surged in 2016 regarding huge problems with how maternal deaths were being inaccurately reported or not reported, the new data published on January 30, 2020, shows that the U.S. maternal mortality rate was 17.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live birth in 2018.

According to the report, in 2018:

  • 658 women died during pregnancy, at birth, or within 42 days of delivery.
  • The maternal mortality rate gets higher with each older age group; women ages 40 and older die at a rate of 81.9 per 100,000 births, meaning they’re 7.7 times more likely to die compared to women under age 25.
  • The maternal death rate for black women was more than double that of white women: 37.1 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to 14.7. It was also more than three times the rate for Hispanic women (11.8).

Heart conditions and cancer accounted for 30% of deaths combined for women aged 25–39, and primary causes of death included:

  • Pregnancy with abortive outcome
  • Eclampsia and pre-eclampsia
  • Pregnancy-related conditions
  • Complications of labor and delivery
  • Obstetric embolism
  • Complications of the puerperium
  • Cardiomyopathy in the puerperium
  • Indirect obstetric causes
  • Diseases of the circulatory system complicating pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium
  • Other specified diseases and conditions complicating pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium

Still, there may be many problems with the new rate as it excludes moms over 44 and postpartum deaths after 42 days of birth aren’t being captured, although the CDC reports 24 percent of maternal deaths are happening six or more weeks after a woman gives birth.

Who is Responsible?

Many efforts to address maternal healthcare issues have fallen onto the backs of state lawmakers rather than providers. Illinois recently passed legislation that extends pregnancy Medicaid to a year after birth. Still, each year, an average of 19 women die within 12 months of pregnancy in the Chicago-area, according to a 2019 report by the Chicago Department of Public Health. Hospitals and clinicians must do better in understanding why preventable maternal deaths continue to increase and prioritize ways to reduce these events immediately. Whether it’s strengthening education in recognizing the symptoms of deadly conditions and providing quick treatment plans, or being forced to publicly record a hospital’s incidences in maternal morbidity and injuries, women shouldn’t have to wait much longer for something more to be done.

Call Levin & Perconti If a Healthcare Failure Caused A Mother’s Preventable Death

If you suspect medical negligence may have contributed to a maternal injury or death, please contact Levin & Perconti toll-free at 877-374-1417 in Chicago at (312) 332-2872 for a FREE consultation.

Also read: When Mothers Are Mistreated Because of Race, Babies Are at Risk of Preterm Birth and Harmful Injuries


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