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Pregnancy-related deaths preventable in four out of five cases, according to new data

CDC: Most pregnancy-related deaths avoidable, could come up to year after labor
Posted at 3:59 PM, Sep 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-19 17:39:58-04

(WXYZ) — New data finds four out of five pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are preventable. The report from Maternal Mortality Review Committees highlights the need for quality improvement initiatives in hospitals and communities to ensure that women get the care they need in a timely manner. 

It’s heartbreaking that 80% of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable, according to this report. That’s an unacceptable high number.

Now the data was collected in 36 states between 2017 and 2019. Here are the top underlying causes:

- 23% of the deaths were due to mental health conditions. This includes suicide, overdoses, or poisoning related to substance use disorder. These conditions were the leading underlying cause for Hispanic and non-Hispanic White people.

- 14% were caused by hemorrhaging which is excessive bleeding. Hemorrhages were the leading underlying cause for non-Hispanic Asian people.

- 13% were cardiac and coronary conditions relating to the heart. They were the leading underlying cause of pregnancy-related deaths among non-Hispanic Black people.

- Three other conditions – infection, thrombotic embolism which is a type of blood clot, and cardiomyopathy which is a disease of the heart muscle – each accounted for 9% of pregnancy-related deaths.

- And 7% were linked to high blood pressure disorders.

What was also shocking, in my opinion, was that American Indian or Alaska Native people were found to be disproportionally impacted– 93% were discovered to be preventable. Mental health conditions and hemorrhage were found to be the most common underlying causes of death for this ethnic group.

The report found that 22% of deaths happened during pregnancy, another 25% happened on the day of delivery or within 7 days after, and a huge number of deaths - 53% - took place between 7 days to 1 year following pregnancy.

As for advice, it’s important for women to see their health care provider before getting pregnant, during pregnancy, and up to one year after giving birth. Doctors can address potential health problems from the start. And make sure women get the attention and care should complications occur.

Also, here are some warning signs pregnant women or new Moms should watch for:

• Severe headache, belly pain, swelling, nausea, and throwing up

• Dizziness or fainting

• Changes in vision

• Fever

• Trouble breathing

• Overwhelming tiredness

• Chest pain

• Thoughts of harming oneself or the baby

Lastly, it’s imperative that pregnant women or new moms speak up and advocate for themselves if something doesn’t feel right. It’s one of the best ways they can protect themselves against these unfortunate pregnancy-related deaths.