CDC Data Shows 38% Increase in U.S. Maternal Death Rate in 2021

Maternal Death Rate in 2021: On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report showing that maternal death rates in the United States have increased by 38% for 2021. Based on data from the National Vital Statistics System, they suggested this rise could have been compounded by COVID-19 pandemic.

CDC Data Shows 38% Increase in U.S. Maternal Death Rate in 2021
Statistically significant increase from previous year (p < 0.05).
NOTE: Race groups are single race.
SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality.

Mortality rates were calculated as number of deaths per 100,000 births; data shows these numbers have been increasing long before COVID-19 began spreading, but their rise was particularly sharp after its outbreak.

In 2021, there were 1,205 maternal deaths in the United States, raising the maternal mortality rate to 32.9 per 100,000 live births.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that non-Hispanic Black women experienced more than double this rate compared to White women at 69.5 deaths per 100,000 births vs 26.6. Furthermore, maternal death rates among women over 40 were six times greater than those experienced by those under 25.

The report further emphasizes the role COVID-19 played in increasing mortality rates. Women were particularly at risk from COVID-19, as evidenced by some studies showing an increased likelihood of death, being ventilated in the intensive care unit, preeclampsia and blood clots – all of which pose increased risks for morbidity and mortality.

This report follows one released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in October, which determined that COVID-19 contributed to 25% of maternal deaths between 2020 and 2021. Furthermore, Black or African American women experienced higher maternal death rates compared to White or Hispanic women; further proving that America has one of the highest maternal death rates among developed nations according to Commonwealth Fund figures.

The alarming increase in maternal death rates in the United States requires urgent action from policymakers and healthcare providers. A CDC report indicates that COVID-19 may have contributed to these rising mortality rates, but other factors like inadequate prenatal care, chronic illnesses like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as an excessive rate of cesarean sections have also played a role.

To address this problem, the United States needs to invest in programs that improve maternal healthcare access, provide adequate prenatal care and raise awareness of the risk factors linked to maternal mortality.

Healthcare providers need the necessary training and resources to identify and address underlying causes of maternal death. Moreover, more research is necessary in order to better comprehend these causes and create effective interventions to reduce it.

By taking a comprehensive approach, the United States can work towards decreasing maternal mortality rates while guaranteeing all women receive quality care during their pregnancy and delivery.

Source- Hoyert DL. Maternal mortality rates in the United States, 2021. NCHS Health E-Stats. 2023.

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