The CDC released a new report highlighting a dramatic rise in maternal mortality last week. U.S. officials are alarmed by the increase in fatalities. According to a press release from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, 1,205 persons died from maternal causes in 2021. In past years, the rate of maternal mortality was 861 in 2020 and 751 in 2019.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a maternal death as “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, regardless of the duration and location of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, excluding accidental or incidental causes.”
According to the most recent data, the maternal mortality rate in 2021 will be 32 deaths per 100,000 live births. In 2021, the rate was 23,8, while in 2019, it was 20,1. In addition, the survey finds that Black women are the most affected.
According to the CDC, the maternal mortality rate for black women is 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is more than double the rate for non-Hispanic white women. The maternal mortality rate for white women was 26 per 100,000 live births, whereas the rate for Hispanic women was 28 per 100,000 live births.
In comparison to other highly developed nations, the United States’ statistics is alarming. According to the WHO, the maternal mortality rate in high-income nations in 2020 was 12 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 430 deaths in low-income countries. Donna Hoyert, a health scientist at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, told NPR that COVID-19 may be responsible for an increase in maternal mortality.
“The increase between 2019 and 2020 provided some warning that maternal mortality rates appeared to be rising throughout this pandemic era,” Hoyert added. “There was a shift in the age distribution of COVID deaths in 2021, with a greater proportion of deaths occurring in younger age groups, where women are more likely to be pregnant or recently pregnant.”
Leaders of the United States Congress cite the racial divide as a major cause for worry. Representatives Young Kim (CA-40) and Robin Kelly (IL-02), co-chairs of the Maternity Care Caucus, deemed the newly disclosed data unacceptable in a statement. Representatives fear that the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to repeal Roe v. Wade last summer would result in increased maternal fatalities owing to restrictions on abortion rights.
In the CDC report, increases in the maternal death rate among women under the age of 25 are noted. Hispanic women’s maternal death rate per 100,000 live births rose from 7.7 in 2020 to 14.1 in 2021. Black women under the age of 25 had a rise from 28.8 to 41.5, whilst white women reported a lower increase from 11.5 to 16.9. In her release, Kelly referred to the report as a wake-up call for all U.S. officials since the crisis is likely to escalate if no action is taken.
“This issue continues to affect Black, Indian, and Latina women considerably more severely than their white counterparts,” Kelly stated. “For years, Black and Brown mothers have been disproportionately affected by the maternal health crisis, and the differential health outcomes from COVID-19 for racial minorities have exacerbated these inequities.”
Kelly is promoting the passage of her MOMMA’s Act, which contains steps to combat the rise in maternal mortality. The primary objective of the measure is to establish federal obstetric emergency guidelines and to extend Medicaid coverage to new mothers during the postpartum period.
The Biden and Harris White House is likewise taking measures to combat the increase in maternal mortality. The administration presented its White House Plan for Tackling the Maternal Health Crisis on June 24, 2022.
Five priorities are outlined in the Biden and Harris plan to improve maternal health for Americans:
- Improving coverage and access to comprehensive, high-quality maternal health treatments, including mental health services.
- Ensuring that women who are giving birth have a voice and are decision-makers in responsible health care systems.
- Increasing data gathering, standardization, harmonization, openness, and investigation.
- Increasing the size and diversity of the perinatal workforce.
- Enhancing economic and social support for women prior to, during, and after pregnancy.