A new report from the CDC found that over 700 women in the United States die annually from pregnancy-related complications. The CDC found that around 60% of the deaths are preventable. Pregnancy-related deaths occur in one of three different periods: during pregnancy, at delivery or within a week, or one week to one-year postpartum.
American Indian, African American and Native Alaskan women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women.
Stroke and heart disease were responsible for 34% of the deaths. Pregnancy-related deaths in the US is on the rise. Deaths have doubled in the past 20 years, and the US is the only developed country in the world to experience higher mortality rates.
The CDC recommends several options to help provide better care to pregnant women. Access to high-quality care and knowledge of warning signs are two key recommendations. The CDC claims that patients often don’t know the warning signs of complications, and when they do, they often cannot make it to the doctor to be properly treated.
Affordability and time are two factors that the CDC cites in their report. Access to healthcare continues to be an issue for many women, with healthcare policies currently covering postpartum care as a one-time visit. Doctors recommend that postpartum care be an ongoing process to ensure that one-third of women who die after birth can be saved.
Paid maternity leave is another recommendation, as moms often have their Medicaid canceled after 60 days of having the baby.
There are more than 50,000 women that suffer severe complications during childbirth in the US annually.
The reason why white women have a much lower risk of pregnancy-related deaths is still being investigated. One theory is that women who are American Indian, Alaskan Native, and African American, suffer from higher stress due to structural racism. Doctors suggest that chronic stress from this racism may place a major role in women’s health.
African American deaths reached 42.8 out of 100,000 during pregnancy. Women classified as American Indian and Alaskan Native had a death rate of 32.5 per 100,000. Sweden, for example, has just 4 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Marriage also tends to play a role in these figures, with unmarried women at a higher risk of death than married women. Age is another contributing factor, with 76.5 out of 100,000 women over the age of 50 dying from pregnancy-related deaths.