The Disturbing Rise of Maternal Mortality in the United States


Article by: Harper Mason, on 06 July 2023, at 03:58 am PDT

Startling statistics reveal a dire situation: the maternal mortality rate in the United States has more than doubled between 1999 and 2019. This disconcerting rise in maternal deaths is particularly pronounced among Native American, including Alaska Natives, and Black populations.

Comparatively, the US, despite being a high-income country, grapples with one of the highest maternal mortality rates among developed nations. Maternal mortality encompasses deaths occurring during or within one year after pregnancy. The leading causes of such fatalities include mental health conditions, which can lead to suicide or substance abuse, followed by excessive bleeding and cardiovascular complications.

The results were disheartening. Across the entire US population, the maternal mortality rate rose from 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1999 to 32.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019.

Native American populations, including Alaska Natives, witnessed the most drastic increase, with the maternal mortality rate more than tripling from 19.0 to 69.3 deaths per 100,000 live births. Similarly, among white individuals, the rate also tripled, surging from 9.2 to 27.9 deaths per 100,000 live births.

For the Black population, it rose from 31.4 to 67.6 deaths per 100,000 live births. The Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander groups experienced rates of 20.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019, approximately double the rates recorded in 1999.

Geographically, maternal mortality rates were highest in southern states for most groups. However, Native Americans faced higher rates in the Western states, including Alaska.

Although the study did not delve into the specific causes of death, multiple factors contribute to this concerning trend. These factors encompass delayed pregnancies, which can lead to complications, as well as inadequate access to healthcare and systemic racism faced by numerous racial and ethnic groups.

These findings emphasize the urgent need for comprehensive efforts to address the escalating maternal mortality crisis in the United States. Without prompt action and targeted interventions, the well-being of mothers and their children remains at risk, demanding a collective commitment to effecting meaningful change.

Source: JAMA Network

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