Every 90 seconds, one woman in the world dies from pregnancy-related complications. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in developing countries, particularly South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, making it the greatest health disparity between developed and developing countries.
Because maternal mortality is the greatest health disparity between developed and developing countries, it seems like it’s really not a problem in developed countries like the United States. The statistics seems to illustrate that maternal health is a concern in other countries and not our own. But, that’s not the case. Let’s not pretend that maternal mortality isn’t a problem in the U.S.. Let’s not pretend American women aren’t dying in childbirth when we are capable of saving their lives. Here are X fast facts about maternal mortality in the U.S.
Maternal Mortality in the United States
- In the United States, between two or three women die from pregnancy-related complications every day.
- African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.
- One-third of all women who give birth in the United States, which is about 1.7 million women per year, experience some type of complication that has an adverse effect on their health.
- More than 34,000 women who experience some type of complication nearly die from that complication. This number, known as “near misses,” has increased 25 percent between 1998 and 2005.
- Forty percent of “near misses” could have been prevented.
- Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. This delays the start of prenatal care, which increases the likelihood of complications.
- One in four women don’t receive adequate prenatal care in the first trimester.
- “Adequate prenatal care” is defined as 13 prenatal visits beginning in the first trimester. Twenty-five percent of women don’t meet this criteria, but this percentage increases to 32 percent for African-American women and 41 percent of Native American and Alaskan women.
- Native American women are 3.5 times more likely to receive late or no prenatal care than white women.
- Women with no prenatal care are three to four times more likely to die than those who have access to prenatal care.
- Among women with high risk pregnancies, African-American women are five and a half times more likely to die than white women.
- More than half of all maternal deaths occur between one and 42 days after birth. However, postpartum care is generally limited to one office visit six weeks after birth.
- The U.S. has no standardized, nationally-implemented protocols to prevent, recognize, and treat the leading causes of childbirth-related deaths such as blood clots or massive blood loss.
- There are no federal requirements to report maternal deaths and data collection at the state level is insufficient, meaning that opportunities to prevent future deaths are missed because we aren’t counting, reviewing, or learning what happened to cause these deaths.