U.S. maternal mortality is still too high

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics Reports released a new report showing that almost 700 women die from childbirth in the U.S. every year, putting the country in the last place among all developed nations in terms of maternal mortality. 

Hospitalized mother.

Hospitalized mother. / Photo: Pixabay

The Woman Post | Luisa Fernanda Báez Toro

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Leer en español: La mortalidad materna en EE. UU. Sigue siendo demasiado alta

"Maternal mortality is an important indicator of the health of a nation," said Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics. "These are deaths that are almost entirely preventable, and these are deaths that are occurring at a time that is supposed to be about birth, not death, so it's particularly poignant when a mother dies in childbirth."

According to CNN, for this study, maternal death was defined as the “death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of being pregnant”, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or the management of the pregnancy. However, suicide was not included in this report.

For this CDC report, instead of using the usual checkbox system, researchers used death certificates in the United States to collect and examine data on maternal deaths in order to “mitigate errors”. 

"These new data from our colleagues at CDC represent a landmark for this really important topic. It gives us more evidence and more confidence that these maternal mortality rates that we're seeing in the United States, that are still higher than those of our peer countries, truly represent a critical public health issue and serious concern for the health of women”, said Dr. Janine Clayton to CNN. 

According to the report, of the 658 women who died of maternal causes in 2018, black women fared the worst, dying 2½ times more often than white women, says NCBC. 

It was also found that in this year, Hispanic women had the lowest rate of maternal mortality, 11.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. 

Also read: Cervical cancer is still a thing

Data from the CDC also shows that from 2007 to 2016, black mothers died 3.2 times more than white mothers. 

Although experts don't understand why, they suspect that a combination of black women's increased susceptibility to certain health conditions and institutional racism in society and the health care system could explain these numbers. 

"That's really the takeaway. I don't think it's as important to focus on the exact numbers. What's important is that black women have a much higher maternal mortality rate than white women", said Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics.

As read on CNN, heart disease and stroke caused more than 1 in 3 pregnancy-related deaths in the United States between 2011 and 2015 and infections and hemorrhage were other leading causes.