Maternal Deaths More Than Double Since 1999, With Highest Rate Among Black People
The state-by-state analysis found that Southern states had high maternal mortality across all race and ethnicity groups, but especially for Black patients, while Midwest and Great Plains states had the highest rates for American Indian and Alaskan Native patients.
The number of people dying in the U.S. from pregnancy-related causes has more than doubled in the last 20 years, according to a new study, published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. And while the study found mortality rates remain “unacceptably high among all racial and ethnic groups across the U.S.,” the worst outcomes were among Black women, Native American and Alaska Native people. (Huang and Greenhalgh, 7/4)
To the researchers’ surprise, Black women had the highest maternal mortality rates in some Northeast states. “Often, states in the South are called out as having the worst maternal mortality rates in the nation, whereas California and Massachusetts have the best. But that doesn’t tell the whole story,” study leader Dr. Allison Bryant of Mass General Brigham in Boston said in a statement. “It’s essential to look at the disparities between populations that exist even in the ‘best’ states.” (Lapid, 7/3)
“It’s a call to action to all of us to understand the root causes — to understand that some of it is about health care and access to health care, but a lot of it is about structural racism and the policies and procedures and things that we have in place that may keep people from being healthy,” said Dr. Allison Bryant, one of the study’s authors and a senior medical director for health equity at Mass General Brigham. (Ungar, 7/3)
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a blood test that can identify pregnant women who are at imminent risk of developing a severe form of high blood pressure called pre-eclampsia, a leading cause of disability and death among childbearing women. The condition disproportionately affects Black women in the United States and may have contributed to the recent death of Tori Bowie, a track star who won gold at the 2016 Olympics. Two Black teammates of Ms. Bowie — Allyson Felix and Tianna Bartoletta — also developed pre-eclampsia during their pregnancies. (Caryn Rabin, 7/3)