Maternal Mortality

The Facts

  • Among nations that measure maternal mortality, the U.S. ranks 55th with 17.4 mothers dying for every 100,000 live births of their babies (CDC, 2018).
  • Nearly 700 women die in the United States on the day of giving birth through 42 days post-partum. (CDC, 2018.)
    • Approximately 1/3 of deaths occurred during pregnancy
    • Approximately 1/3 (36%) occurred at delivery or in the week after giving birth
    • Approximately 1/3 (33%) occurred 1-week to 1-year post-partum
  • Maternal death rates for Black women, Native Americans, Native Alaskans, and Pacific Islanders are 2-3 times higher than Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian women (CDC, 2020).
  • Key Causes of Maternal Mortality: many of these deaths are preventable:
    • Hemorrhage
    • Infection
    • Eclampsia
    • Sepsis
    • Underlying health conditions, i.e., hypertension, heart, diabetes/obesity (CDC, 2019)

Maternal Mortality: It is alarming that in the United States, more than 700 women die annually during pregnancy and within 42 days of giving birth. Many more moms suffer from serious medical conditions and complications before and after pregnancy and delivery, including heart and pulmonary disease. These conditions often go undiagnosed.

Why is the United States measurably deficient within the realms of infant and maternal mortality? Poverty is a root cause of infant and maternal mortality and related morbidities. Approximately 12 % of the U.S. population lives in poverty. Poor access to healthcare/transportation, education, lack of jobs, food insecurity and inadequate housing are core causes of poverty.

States and communities throughout the country are challenged to effectively deliver solutions to mitigate these core issues. Infant mortality is most prevalent in zip codes throughout the country where poverty thrives. Within these same zip codes, healthcare disparities exist for its residents.  African American and American Indian populations experience the greatest number of infant mortality deaths. Lack of access to quality healthcare is a major contributor.

Healthy moms = healthy babies: Many women begin their pregnancies in poor health. High blood pressure, heart and pulmonary illnesses are among the leading contributors to maternal mortality.

Moms with low incomes, and their children, typically do not have convenient access to quality healthcare. Healthy women have healthier pregnancies, babies, children, and healthier families. Key to ensuring women’s health is to provide better access to healthcare throughout all stages of life.