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US maternal mortality rate declines, but disparities remain, new CDC data shows

·2 mins

After a rise in women dying in pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum during the Covid-19 pandemic, rates have decreased significantly in 2022, according to a new report. However, Black women still had higher rates of maternal deaths than other women.

The US maternal mortality rate fell from 32.9 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2021 to 22.3 per 100,000 in 2022. In total, 817 women died of maternal causes in 2022, compared with 1,205 in 2021.

The decrease in maternal deaths in 2022 may be associated with declines in Covid-19 infections. Covid-19 was the third leading cause of all deaths in the United States in the first two years of the pandemic. However, there were about half as many deaths from it in 2022 as in the year before.

A study published last year found that the rate of pregnant women dying in US hospitals appeared to fall more than 50% from 2008 to 2021. However, the decrease represents only in-hospital maternal deaths, and many maternal deaths still happen outside the hospital setting.

Despite the recent decline, the maternal death rate for Black women in 2022 was still higher than for other women. The rate among Black women was 49.5 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared with 19 deaths per 100,000 for White women, 16.9 per 100,000 for Hispanic women, and 13.2 per 100,000 for Asian women.

Access to maternal health care plays a role in disparities. There are maternal health care deserts in the country, and states that have not expanded Medicaid face maternal and infant mortality as well as disparities. Efforts should focus not just on decreasing the overall mortality rate but also addressing racial disparities.

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among other high-income countries. The country is addressing the maternal mortality crisis, particularly for women of color.

Funding has been directed to support community-based organizations focused on improving maternal and infant health. The funding is intended to support the health care and social needs of both mothers and infants in communities in need.

To reduce the risks of maternal complications, women can take individual steps such as optimizing their health before pregnancy, seeking help for substance use disorder, implementing dietary changes and exercise, prioritizing mental health, building a strong support system, and availing themselves of necessary services.

The goal is to set women up for ideal outcomes and improve overall maternal health.