- Of the 1,018 deaths, 839 occurred one year after birth, with mental health conditions being the leading underlying cause, according to the analysis.
- Black mothers, three times more likely to die than white mothers, accounted for nearly a third of all deaths from 2017-2019.
- More than 90% of Indigenous maternal deaths are preventable, most from mental health conditions and bleeding.
A staggering number of maternal deaths in the United States are thought to be preventable, according to a federal analysis of maternal mortality data released Monday.
More than 80%, or about 4 out of 5 maternal deaths in a two-year period, due to preventable causesreported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Analysis of pregnancy-related deaths from 2017 to 2019, which occurred disproportionately among women of color including Black and Indigenous, based on maternal mortality review committee data. These are multidisciplinary groups based in 36 states that specialize in investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of mothers.
Of the 1,018 deaths, 839 occurred up to a year after birth, with mental health conditions – death by suicide or drug overdose – the leading underlying cause followed by excessive bleeding or bleeding, according to reports. About 22% of deaths occur during pregnancy and a quarter on the due date or within a week of giving birth.
Almost a quarter of deaths are due to mental health conditions, 14% due to hemorrhage and 13% due to heart problems. The rest are due to infection, embolism, cardiomyopathy and disorders related to high blood pressure.
Experts say the findings highlight the critical need for rigorous postpartum health and mental health resources, as well as tailored strategies to combat racial disparities persistent race.
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Allison Bryant, a high-risk obstetrician, is the senior medical director of health equity at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“It’s very important. Incredible. It’s heartbreaking,” said Bryant, chair of the Massachusetts review committee. “It just means we have a lot of work to do.”
The analysis includes a section on maternal death for American Indians and Alaska Natives who were more than twice as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white mothers but were often underestimated in the health data due to misclassification.
Oneida Nation associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and obstetrics and gynecology at Upstate College of Medicine in Syracuse, New York, Dr. Brian Thompson of Oneida Nation, is working with the National Health Commission of India to form the first national tribal review committee.
According to the analysis, more than 90% of Indigenous mother deaths are preventable, with the majority being due to mental health conditions and bleeding.
“It really needs to be looked at and considered why if they are all essentially preventable,” he said. “It was extremely painful.”
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Andrea Jackson, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, says there are known toolkits for clinicians that provide evidence-based guidelines for prevention and treatment. bleeding treatment.
“No pregnant person should ever die of bleeding,” she said. “We have the tools in the United States and we know how to deal with it. That really frustrates me.”
Black mothers, three times more likely to die than white mothers, account for nearly a third of all deaths and are more likely to die from heart and coronary problems.
“In both African-Americans and Native Americans, we see this disparity in outcomes that are persistent and, unfortunately, historic,” Jackson said.
Hispanic mothers, who account for 14% of deaths, regularly die from mental health conditions, just as white mothers account for 46% of deaths.
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Dr Charletta Ayers, an obstetrician and gynecologist and director of the Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University, calls the numbers “serious”.
The findings also highlight the need for stronger mental health resources for pregnant and postpartum women to prevent them from falling under the radar,” she said.
Echoing Ayers, Dr. Lethenia Baker, an OB-GYN at Wellstar Health in Georgia, says there can be “long delays in diagnosis and treatment” of postpartum conditions. Baker said improvements in diagnosis, access to care and awareness need to be structural.
“These are things that need to happen systematically,” she said. “It can’t be just a few practices here or there who are adopting best practices. It has to be a systemic change.”