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Pregnant Patient

CDC: Most Pregnancy-Related Deaths Are Preventable

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

A report released by the CDC this week indicates more than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths that occurred from 2017 to 2019 were preventable.

The agency’s Maternal Mortality Review Committees gathered information from 36 states, finding 1,018 pregnancy-related deaths occurred between 2017 and 2019. These deaths occurred during pregnancy (22%), day of delivery or within seven days after (25%), and between seven days and one year after pregnancy (53%).

The deaths occurred across all races and ethnicities, although the rates were disproportionate among non-Hispanic Black patients and non-Hispanic white patients. Deaths also occurred across a wide range of ages (from age 15 years to older than age 45 years) and education levels (from 12th grade or less to an advanced degree). Additionally, these deaths occurred in urban and rural settings, although many more occurred in urban settings (81% vs. 18%).

The leading causes varied: mental health conditions (including suicide and overdose/poisoning related to substance use disorder; leading cause for Hispanic and non-Hispanic White patients; 23%), excessive bleeding (14%; leading cause for non-Hispanic Asian patients), cardiac and coronary conditions (13%; top among non-Hispanic Black patients), infection (9%), thrombotic embolism (9%), cardiomyopathy (9%), and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (7%).

“The report paints a much clearer picture of pregnancy-related deaths in this country,” said Wanda Barfield, MD, MPH, director of the CDC’s division of reproductive health at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “The majority of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable, highlighting the need for quality improvement initiatives in states, hospitals, and communities that ensure all people who are pregnant or postpartum get the right care at the right time.”

For more on this and related subjects, be sure to read the latest issues of OB/GYN Clinical Alert.