CDC analysis shows more than 80% of US maternal deaths are preventable

Pregnant woman holding hands over belly on black background
  • Of the 1,018 deaths, 839 occurred up to a year postpartum, with mental health conditions as the top underlying cause, according to the analysis.
  • Black mothers, who are three times as likely as white mothers to die, made up close to a third of deaths from 2017-2019.
  • More than 90% of Indigenous mothers’ deaths were preventable, with most due to mental health conditions and hemorrhage.

A staggering number of maternal deaths in the United States were found to be preventable, according to a federal analysis of maternal death data released Monday.

More than 80%, or roughly 4 in 5 maternal deaths in a two-year period, were due to preventable causes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found.

The analysis of 2017 to 2019 pregnancy-related deaths, which disproportionately occur among women of color including Black and Indigenous, are based on figures from maternal mortality review committees. These are multidisciplinary groups based in 36 states that investigate circumstances surrounding maternal deaths.

Of the 1,018 deaths, 839 occurred up to a year postpartum, with mental health conditions – deaths by suicide or overdose – the top underlying cause followed by extreme bleeding, or hemorrhage, according to the report. About 22% of deaths happened during pregnancy, and a quarter on the day of delivery or within a week after delivery.

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