A startling new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that maternal deaths in the United States spiked in 2021, the highest rate since the agency began tracking data in 1987.
The CDC's National Vital Statistics System found that the rate of maternal deaths increased from 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020 to 18.8 deaths in 2021, a 7.7% increase. This is the largest single-year increase since tracking began.
The data shows a concerning rise in maternal mortality, especially among women of color. Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. Hispanic women are 1.3 times more likely to die than white women.
The CDC report also found that women living in rural areas are more likely to die due to pregnancy-related complications than women living in urban areas.
The report found that the leading causes of maternal deaths in the U.S. are cardiac disease, followed by hemorrhage, infection, stroke, embolism, and hypertensive disorders. The top contributing factors to maternal mortality are inadequate prenatal care, obesity, advanced maternal age, and chronic health conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
Experts are urging pregnant women to receive regular prenatal care, including preventive care before and after giving birth. They are also urging policy makers to make sure that women have access to quality health care, including mental health services, throughout their pregnancies.
The CDC report is a stark reminder that more needs to be done to reduce maternal mortality in the United States. It is critical that we take steps to ensure that all women have access to the care they need to have a healthy pregnancy and birth.