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New Report Shows Most Pregnancy Deaths Are Preventable


In a sobering study, the CDC found that about 60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths every year could have been prevented.

About 700 women in the United States die every year due to pregnancy-related conditions. Pregnancy-related deaths can occur during pregnancy, during delivery, and up to a year postpartum.

Causes of death

The majority of pregnancy-related deaths happen before and during childbirth. Common causes of pregnancy-related death include infections, hemorrhaging, and cardiovascular conditions.

However, mothers are still at risk after the baby is born. Over 30 percent of pregnancy-related deaths occur two months to one year after childbirth, a period that is mistakenly considered a safe time for the mother.

The leading cause of death varied throughout the stages of pregnancy. Hemorrhage and noncardiovascular conditions were the leading causes of death during pregnancy and childbirth. Cardiomyopathy, or heart disease, caused the majority of postpartum deaths.

Racial Bias

The study also revealed a stark racial divide in pregnancy-related deaths. From 2011 to 2015, 42.8 percent of black women and 32.5 percent of American Indian / Alaska Native women suffered pregnancy-related deaths, compared to 13 percent of white women during the same time period.

In addition, black women are more likely to die during the postpartum period, and more likely to die from cardiomyopathy. Black women are more likely to develop cardiomyopathy in general, though there is a lack of research on whether the cause is more genetic or socioeconomic.

Contributing Factors

mother and child

About 3 out of 5 pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. This means that of the estimated 700 pregnancy-related deaths in the United States every year, nearly 420 of those deaths could have been prevented.

Better women’s health education and access to better postnatal care, especially for women of color, is crucial for lowering the pregnancy-related mortality rate. Some states have taken steps towards making improvements at a systematic level.

Negligence can play just as large a role in pregnancy-related deaths as systematic issues. This includes:

  • Missed warning signs of infection or cardiomyopathy
  • Failure to treat dangerous pregnancy-related conditions
  • Delayed pregnancy diagnoses
  • Lack of education about prenatal nutrition and potential risks
  • Medication errors
  • Delivery injuries

Because the cause of death varies from stage to stage, there is no single way to prevent all pregnancy deaths across the board. However, birth injury lawsuits may deliver justice for a pregnancy-related death caused by medical malpractice.

If someone you love has passed away during childbirth or after childbirth due to the negligence of their healthcare provider, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice case. A birth injury lawyer can help you through the process of filing a birth injury lawsuit. Please call us or contact us online for a free consultation about your claim.