Cutting Maternal Deaths Requires Broad Health System Fix — CDC

Modesto Morganelli
Mag 11, 2019

While maternal mortality has become rare occurrences in developed countries, in the United States, the number of deaths during pregnancy and childbirth has been steadily rising from decades.

"The bottom line is that too many women are dying largely preventable deaths associated with their pregnancies", said Anne Schuchat, Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) principal deputy director during a call with USA media. Black, American Indian and Alaska native women were about three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related causes as white women, the data found. The cause could be a related complication, a chain of events initiated by pregnancy, or the aggravation of an unrelated medical condition by pregnancy.

In the report, Emily E. Petersen, MD, of the CDC, and colleagues examined two sources of data - the Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System from 2011-2015, as well as data from 13 state maternal mortality review committees from 2013-2017.

Heart disease and stroke caused more than one in three pregnancy-related deaths, but other leading causes included infections and severe bleeding, according to the CDC.

Three of five pregnancy or childbirth related deaths in the United States occur due to preventable causes, warned a report according to which those deaths now continue to increase in the country. Of the 2,990 deaths for which timing was known, 31 percent took place during pregnancy, while 36 percent occurred during or in the week after delivery. Between one week and one year after delivery, cardiomyopathy, or weakened heart muscle, caused the most deaths. In the week following delivery, the report listed high blood pressure, severe bleeding, and infections as the most common cause of death.

The public health agency is calling on health care providers to communicate the risks and warning signs of pregnancy-related complications to patients. But qualitative data from maternal mortality review committees found that the preventable maternal deaths were "the result of several missed opportunities along the way". The MMRCs say that most of these deaths could have been prevented. Communities and state can contribute in providing adequate housing and transportation especially for high risk pregnancies.

Development of the CDC Levels of Care Assessment Tool to assess the level of maternal and new born care provided by the health care setups and providing technical assistance. And care could extend to much longer after the pregnancy is over. "At Delivery: Standardize patient care, including delivering high-risk women at hospitals with specialized providers and equipment and Postpartum: Provide high-quality care for mothers up to one year after birth, which includes communicating with patients about warning signs and connecting to prompt follow-up care". It is a monthly webcast that discusses major health issues. It contains a Maternal Mortality Review Information Application (MMRIA), which is a data entry system that can provide detailed data on maternal mortality.

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