Recently, an alarm sounded about the shocking number of deaths that occur when American women give birth. Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, the U.S. maternal mortality ratio is three to four times higher than that of most other developed nations.
Since 1990 the maternal mortality ratio in the United States has more than doubled, according to the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, with an estimated 700 to 900 women dying from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes each year. Tens of thousands more suffer severe pregnancy complications annually. An increasing number of pregnant women in the United States have chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, that could put them at risk of pregnancy complications or death.
Another factor is unescapable; where you live matters. Women’s deaths from pregnancy-related complications were 64 percent higher in rural areas than in large U.S. cities in 2015.
To prevent these tragedies—which profoundly affect not just families but entire communities—researchers are working to improve maternal care. A focus on the mother, not just the baby, during and after childbirth can make all the difference.
The rise in maternal mortality figures can be partially the result of a new death certificate form that includes a question about whether a woman had been recently pregnant or had given birth. Before this form was widely used, no such data were captured.
No matter the statistics, the need to prevent any woman from dying as a result of childbirth is imperative. We are proud to support agencies that are working to improve health care, not just for mothers but for everyone.