Why maternal mortality rate surged by 40% when deaths are preventable
Maternal death rates surged by nearly 40% during the second year of the pandemic, widening disparities as Black women again faced alarmingly high, disproportionate rates, a new federal analysis shows.
In 2021, there were about 33 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births – a 38% increase from the year before, according to the report released Thursday from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Experts say COVID-19 likely contributed to the increases, but that the sobering rates continue to reveal deep flaws in health systems, such as structural racism, implicit bias and communities losing access to care.
“A roughly 40% increase in preventable deaths compared to a year prior is stunning news,” Dr. Iffath Abbasi Hoskins, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in a statement to USA TODAY.
The rates “send a resounding message” that maternal health and evidence-based efforts to eliminate racial inequities must remain at the forefront of public health priorities, Hoskins said.