US maternal mortality hits 58-year high

The rate of maternal deaths during or shortly after pregnancy rose 40 percent in 2021, making the U.S. the most dangerous place among high-income countries to give birth, The Wall Street Journal reported March 16.

The maternal mortality rate rose to 33 deaths per 100,000 live births, the highest since 1965. It continues an upward trend, with 20 deaths per 100,000 in 2019 and 24 in 2020, according to CDC data. 

The COVID-19 pandemic added to factors contributing to maternal deaths, including healthcare disparities and delays in preventive care.

Here are four more takeaways:

  1. Black mothers have 2.6 times higher mortality rate than white women, and 30 percent of maternal deaths were among Black women.

  2. Maternal deaths were more common among women 40 years and older than younger women.

  3. Conditions such as pulmonary embolisms, uncontrolled bleeding and problems related to hypertension were the leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S., the CDC found.

  4. The U.S. maternal death rate is more than twice that of France (eight per 100,000), the U.K. (10) and Canada (11), which have all seen a decrease in deaths since 2000, according to WHO. However, in that same time, U.S. maternal mortality rates rose 78 percent.

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