US pregnancy deaths dropped in 2022, after COVID spike

The United States has seen a significant decrease in pregnancy-related deaths in 2022, following a significant spike in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of pregnancy-related deaths dropped from 16.9 per 100,000 live births in 2020 to 14.0 in 2022. This is the lowest rate since the CDC began tracking pregnancy-related mortality in 1987.

The CDC report also found that the rate of deaths among women of color decreased in 2022, after a significant increase in 2020. The rate for Black women fell from 37.3 per 100,000 live births to 32.8, while the rate for Hispanic women dropped from 15.4 per 100,000 live births to 13.7.

The report also noted that the majority of pregnancy-related deaths in 2020 and 2022 involved underlying medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension.

The CDC noted that the decrease in pregnancy-related deaths in 2022 is likely due to improved access to care, increased awareness of the risks of pregnancy-related complications, and better management of chronic conditions.

Dr. Wanda Barfield, director of the CDC's Division of Reproductive Health, said in a statement that the report's findings “underscore the importance of continuing to make investments in maternal health, especially for those at greatest risk of experiencing pregnancy-related morbidity and mortality.”

The CDC report comes as the US maternity care system faces numerous challenges, including a shortage of obstetricians, rising costs of care, and limited access to care for rural and low-income communities.

Dr. Barfield noted that the report's findings “underscore the need for additional efforts to address disparities in access to care and the need to further invest in maternal health.”