youhe US maternal mortality rate, already much higher than other countries, skyrocketed during the pandemic.
More than 1,200 women in the US died from complications of pregnancy or childbirth in 2021, a 40% increase from 2020, according to data released Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That equates to 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births.
The spread of COVID-19 was partly responsible for the grim statistic, with roughly a quarter of 2020 and 2021 deaths attributed to the virus, according to a october report from the US Government Accountability Office. However, the new data suggests that little progress has been made on other factors that add to the US’s exceptionally high maternal mortality rate.
Before the pandemic, a quarter of pregnancy-related deaths could be attributed to suicide, overdose, or other mental health conditions, according to the CDC. saying in September. The group said that more than 80% of deaths were preventable.
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Long-marginalized groups continue to suffer the most. The 2021 death rate for black mothers was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, more than double the rate for white mothers. The year-over-year jumps for all groups were “significant,” according to the report.
About a quarter of maternal deaths occurred during pregnancy and another quarter within a week of delivery, the CDC found in a 2017-2019 study. The remaining 50% of deaths occurred in the first year of childbearing. After suicide, excessive bleeding, heart problems, and infections were the leading causes of death.
Broader access to insurance coverage to improve prenatal and follow-up care, and increased transportation to medical facilities could help reduce the death rate, according to the CDC.
Other studies they have suggested that the US could make better use of programs that have helped reduce deaths elsewhere, such as widespread use of midwives, universal health care and maternity leave. The country’s death rate is more than triple Canada’s rate, eight times the UK’s rate and nearly 11 times Australia’s rate, according to 2021 data from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In June The White House has launched a plan to address the high mortality rate among new and pregnant mothers, which includes asking states to extend Medicaid coverage from two months to a year after delivery. It also requested $470 million for initiatives such as implicit bias training for healthcare providers and research and data collection.
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