A new study highlights how the maternal mortality rate is rising in the United States and draws attention to the particularly devastating impact it is having on black mothers — as well as Native American and Alaskan-born women.
For comparison, Yale Medicine defines maternal mortality as “when a woman dies during pregnancy, childbirth, or in the postpartum period.”
A growing number of Americans of all races are dying from pregnancy-related or work-related problems
The Journal of the American Medical Association published the study on Monday (July 3). The focus was on the maternal mortality rates (MMRs) for various racial and ethnic groups in all 50 states between 1999 and 2019.
Therefore, we should add that the data does not take into account maternal deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, the researchers found that MMR increased at least twice among all racial and ethnic groups (Native American and Alaskan Native; Black; Hispanic; Asian, Hawaiian Native or other Pacific Islander; and White) over a 20-year period.
In addition, the results revealed “In every year between 1999 and 2019, the black population had the highest mean state MMR.” This means that while more women are affected by maternal deaths overall, black mothers remain the most likely to die.
While the black community consistently had the highest MMRs, the “largest gains” were among Native American and Alaskan-born mothers.
“Native American and Alaskan resident populations experienced the largest increases in state mean MMR scores between 1999 and 2019.”
In many US states, maternal mortality remains a cause of growing inequalities, and prevention efforts during this review period appear to have had limited impact in addressing this health crisis. https://t.co/ASm58MiqLz
— JAMA (@JAMA_current) July 3, 2023
Maternal mortality in the United States continues to increase over time
Shockingly, the 2010s also saw an increase in maternal mortality rates, as noted by AP News.
Compared to the first decade of the study, the states of Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey and Texas saw a 93% increase in MMR among black mothers between 2009 and 2019.
Among Native American and Alaskan-born women, the states of Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Rhode Island and Wisconsin saw a 162% increase in maternal mortality.
Overall, the results suggest that “Native American, Native American and Alaskan Black people are at increased risk” of dying from maternal mortality.
“While maternal mortality rates remain unacceptably high for all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, Native American, Alaskan Native and Black people are at increased risk, particularly in several states that have not previously highlighted these inequalities.”
In conclusion, the researchers found: “Maternal mortality remains a cause of growing inequalities in many US states.”
AP News reports that Dr. Karen Joynt Maddox of the Washington University School of Medicine said the results did not surprise her.
“I hate to say it, but the results didn’t surprise me. We have certainly seen enough anecdotal evidence in a single state or group of states to suggest that maternal mortality is increasing.”
she added “It’s definitely alarming, and we only have more evidence to figure out what’s going on and find ways to do something about it.”