Most Pregnancy-Related Deaths in America Are Preventable

Significant racial disparity found in US pregnancy deaths

Significant racial disparity found in US pregnancy deaths

The researchers point out that making one sweeping change to improve pregnancy outcomes isn't necessarily possible, since the causes of death were so different. It could be a chain of events that are triggered or activated by the pregnancy, its physiological effects and its complications.

"Acute obstetric emergencies such as hemorrhage and amniotic fluid embolism most commonly occurred on the day of delivery, whereas deaths caused by hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and thrombotic pulmonary embolism most commonly occurred 0-6 days postpartum, and during pregnancy and 1-42 days postpartum, respectively".

But experts say most could have been prevented, particularly the 34 percent caused by heart conditions, and the 12.5 percent caused by infections.

The CDC looked at pregnancy related mortality and morbidity data between 2011 and 2015.

Staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data on the causes of death and risk factors associated with maternal deaths in 13 U.S. states from 2011 to 2015, during which 3,410 pregnancy-related deaths occurred.

Moreover, the data showed "persistent racial disparities", with both black and American Indian/Alaska Native women about three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related complications.

Ensuring quality care for mothers throughout pregnancy and postpartum "should be among our Nation's highest priorities", CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said in a statement.

'Though most pregnancies progress safely, I urge the public health community to increase awareness with all expectant and new mothers about the signs of serious pregnancy complications and the need for preventative care that can and does save lives'.

America is the most risky place to conceive in the developed world, with double the rate of maternal and fetal mortality compared to any other peer nation.

"The leading factor" in maternal mortality is race, the statement said.

The committees determined that each pregnancy-related death was associated with several contributing factors, including lack of access to appropriate and high-quality care, missed or delayed diagnoses and lack of knowledge among patients and providers around warning signs.

After analyzing these deaths, the researchers concluded that roughly 60 percent of these deaths were preventable. In the week following delivery, the report listed high blood pressure, severe bleeding, and infections as the most common cause of death. Between one week and one year after delivery, cardiomyopathy, or weakened heart muscle, caused the most deaths.

Another step in the right direction would be more maternal mortality review committees, and the director of the CDC's Division of Reproductive Health, RADM Wanda Barfield, MD, said that this fall, the CDC will be supporting as many as 25 maternal mortality review committees that can inform data-driven action and eliminate preventable maternal adults. "It's really important for us to care for our pregnant and postpartum women during pregnancy and even up to one year after delivery", says coauther Emily Petersen of the CDC to STAT. Communities and state can contribute in providing adequate housing and transportation especially for high risk pregnancies.

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