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US seeing a decline in pregnancy-related deaths but doctors remain unsatisfied

Pregnant woman at home
Posted at 3:06 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 17:25:16-04

(WXYZ) — In today’s Health Alert, a new federal report reveals a decline in pregnancy-related deaths from 2021 to 2022. But even though the numbers declined significantly, they’re still higher than before the pandemic.

This new report is from the CDC. They define maternal death as the passing of a woman either during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days after delivery if the health condition was related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or how it was managed.

Now, according to the report, in 2021, the US recorded a total of 1,205 maternal deaths. That’s about 32.9 deaths per 100,000 births. Whereas in 2022, the numbers dropped to 817, which is about 22.3 deaths per 100,000 births.

While this is good news, there are still concerning issues. Our numbers are still higher than pre-pandemic days. In 2019, we had 754 maternal deaths, and in 2018, 658 deaths. And, even though fewer women in all age groups and races died, black women are still hit the hardest. Their maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births in 2022 was 49.5 deaths, which is much higher than the average.

The CDC’s report did not look at why numbers decreased. But the pandemic very likely played a role. Looking at death certificates, 400 mentioned that COVID-19 was a contributor to pregnancy-related deaths in 2021. Whereas, in 2022, fewer than 10 did.

Still, we can’t solely blame COVID. Maternal deaths have been on the rise over the last two decades in the US. And our country surpasses the rates seen in other high-income nations, often by more than threefold.

So, besides the COVID spike, what else could be causing maternal death? According to CDC data, mental health issues, including drug and alcohol use disorders, are the leading cause of death during or shortly after pregnancy. Other underlying causes include high blood pressure, blood clots, excessive bleeding, and infections. In addition, some areas in the US are considered maternal healthcare deserts, and unfortunately, racial disparities still persist. This can lead to inadequate maternal health care for some moms.

So, if you’re thinking of starting a family, it’s best to focus on health first. Quit smoking, seek help if you have substance abuse disorder, eat well, exercise regularly, and consider the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s important for pregnant women to find a reliable healthcare provider and hospital with access to the right services. Also, surround yourself with supportive people because mental health is vital for all moms. As a parent myself, I know the ups and downs of raising children, and having a caring community can make a big difference.

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