Maternal mortality, or the death of a woman during pregnancy or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, is a critical public health issue in the United States. Despite advances in medical technology, the maternal death rate in the US has continued to increase over the past few decades. In this article, we will explore the causes of maternal death in the US and what can be done to reduce the rate.
The Rising Maternal Death Rate in the US
The maternal death rate in the US has been on the rise since the 1990s. In 1990, the maternal death rate was 12.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. By 2019, the rate had increased to 20.1 deaths per 100,000 live births. This is an alarming trend, especially when compared to other developed countries like Canada, where the maternal death rate is 7.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, and the United Kingdom, where the rate is 9.7 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Causes of Maternal Death in the US
There are many factors that contribute to maternal death in the US. Some of the leading causes of maternal death include:
- Cardiovascular disease: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of maternal death in the US, accounting for nearly 26% of all maternal deaths. This includes conditions like hypertensive disorders, heart disease, and stroke.
- Infection: Infection is another significant cause of maternal death, accounting for approximately 15% of all maternal deaths. Infections can occur during pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum, and can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
- Hemorrhage: Hemorrhage, or excessive bleeding, is responsible for approximately 11% of maternal deaths. Hemorrhage can occur during pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum and can be caused by a variety of factors, including uterine rupture, placenta previa, and placental abruption.
- Substance abuse: Substance abuse during pregnancy can lead to complications that can result in maternal death. Substance abuse can include alcohol, opioids, and other drugs.
- Mental health conditions: Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can lead to complications during pregnancy and postpartum that can result in maternal death.
Seeking Solutions to Reduce Maternal Death in the US
There are several steps that can be taken to reduce the maternal death rate in the US. These include:
- Improving access to healthcare: Access to healthcare is critical in preventing maternal deaths. Ensuring that all women have access to quality healthcare throughout their pregnancy and postpartum period is essential.
- Addressing racial and ethnic disparities: Black and Indigenous women are more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. Addressing these disparities is crucial in reducing the maternal death rate in the US.
- Improving quality of care: Improving the quality of care that women receive during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum is essential in preventing maternal deaths. This includes ensuring that healthcare providers are properly trained and that hospitals have the necessary resources to provide high-quality care.
- Implementing evidence-based interventions: Evidence-based interventions, such as early recognition and management of complications, can significantly reduce maternal mortality.
- Encouraging patient engagement: Engaging patients in their healthcare is essential in preventing maternal deaths. This includes providing education on pregnancy-related complications, encouraging patients to speak up if they have concerns, and involving patients in the decision-making process.
Reducing the maternal death rate in the US requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying causes of maternal death. Improving access to healthcare, addressing racial and ethnic disparities.