U.S. maternal deaths keep rising. Here’s who is most at risk

U.S. maternal deaths have more than doubled in the last 20 years, with the worst outcomes found among Black women and Native American/Alaska Native people.

The big picture: The JAMA study examined state-by-state data from 2009 to 2019, highlighting the increasing maternal death rates across all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.
* The highest maternal death rates have consistently been among Black women, with rates more than doubling in the last 20 years. For Native American and Alaska Native people, the rates have tripled.

Key contributing factors: Maternal death rates are exacerbated in populations that have been historically underserved or greatly affected by structural racism.
* The most common risk factors for maternal deaths are cardiovascular disease, severe pre-eclampsia, maternal cardiac disease and hemorrhage. Continuing heart problems and mental health conditions also play a role.

Geographical disparities: Maternal mortality rate increases were observed in areas not typically associated with poor health outcomes.
* New York and New Jersey saw an increase in deaths among Black and Latina mothers, and Wyoming and Montana saw more Asian mothers die. White women also experienced increased maternal mortality in the South, parts of New England, Midwest and Northern Mountain States.

The role of healthcare access: Around half of U.S. births are paid for by Medicaid, but insurance coverage typically lasts only two months post childbirth.
* States have had the option to extend coverage for one year since 2021, but not all have taken this up despite it potentially reducing postpartum health risks.
* Alabama and Mississippi, which had some of the highest maternal death increases, have not extended their Medicaid coverage.

View original article on NPR

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