An estimated 31 percent of pregnancy-related deaths occur during pregnancy, 36 percent during delivery or the week after, and 33 percent one week to one year after delivery, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Based on 2011-2015 data from CDC’s Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System and 2013-2017 data from 13 state maternal mortality review committees (MMRCs), the analysis found that heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths. The national pregnancy-related mortality rate was 17.2 per 100,000 live births, with rates for American Indian/Alaska Native women and black women two to three times higher than rates for white women.
“Though most pregnancies progress safely, I urge the public health community to increase awareness with all expectant and new mothers about the signs of serious pregnancy complications and the need for preventative care that can and does save lives,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D.
The report includes a summary of potential prevention strategies identified by the state MMRCs, panels of experts who review maternal deaths to better understand how to prevent them.
The AHA-supported Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2018 provided funding for states and other entities to develop the MMRCs to better understand maternal complications and identify solutions. The AHA also supports the Joint Commission’s recently proposed standards for perinatal safety, and provisions in the Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness Act (H.R. 1897/S. 916) that would improve state maternal mortality data, provide funding to promote safety practices and cultural competency, and extend health coverage and services for low-income postpartum women. 
“We know that more needs to be done to reduce our nation’s maternal mortality rate and we are committed to reversing this trend,” said Robyn Begley, AHA senior vice president and chief nursing officer. “As part of the American Hospital Association’s Better Health for Mothers and Babies initiative, hospitals have created an action plan focused on evaluating and acting on our data; examining disparities; engaging mothers and families; and partnering with clinicians and stakeholders in our community.”

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