The American Journal of Health calls maternal mortality in the U.S. a public health emergency.

American women are more likely to die during childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications than women in any other developed country. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 700 women die from pregnancy-related complications in the U.S. each year. Every death is tragic, but even more so since about 60 percent are preventable.

Efforts to lower maternal mortality rates

New York ranks 30th out of the 50 states in its maternal mortality rates. The racial disparity in maternal death is alarming. The rates of maternal death for African American women are three times higher than that of white women.

In response to the growing crisis, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act was signed into law in 2018. The new law helps states improve how they track and investigate cases of maternal mortality. The bill authorizes $12 million a year in new funds to tackle this healthcare crisis.

Recently, New York passed legislation that establishes a Maternal Mortality Review Board to create new strategies to combat the high rates of maternal mortality. The state has allocated $8 million to implement recommendations made by the Taskforce on Maternal Mortality and Disparate Racial Outcomes.

Preventing maternal mortality

Women die as a result of complications during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these complications are preventable or treatable. It is essential for women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant to recognize medical conditions that may contribute to maternal mortality. Leading causes of maternal mortality include:

  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Heart disease
  • Blood clots
  • Sepsis
  • Infection
  • Stroke

Additional factors consist of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Women can lower their risk of pregnancy complications by taking diligent care of themselves before, during and after pregnancy.