Skip to main site content.

A national disgrace

60 percent of maternal mortality cases in U.S. are completely preventable, CDC reports

By WITW Staff on May 10, 2019

A disturbing new report from the Centers for Disease Control has called out the state of American healthcare — and health insurance coverage — after revealing that approximately 60 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are fully preventable.

According to the CDC, maternal mortality in the U.S. is being exacerbated largely due to lack of access to health care and missed or late diagnoses — problems that can be attributed at least in part to the country’s continued failure to provide poor women with adequate health insurance coverage, maternity leave or even basic postpartum care. Of the 700 women who die from pregnancy or childbirth each year, approximately 31 percent die during pregnancy, 36 percent during childbirth or a week after giving birth, and 33 percent due to ongoing complications within a year of giving birth.

“Every death reflects a web of missed opportunities,” wrote the CDC in the report.

The U.S. is the world’s only developed country to see its maternal mortality rates increase in recent years, a trend that has correlated strongly with Republican-led efforts to strip women of access to family-planning services and prenatal care. A legal loophole that allows low-income mothers covered by Medicaid to have their health insurance coverage revoked just 60 days after giving birth also appears to be a major contributing factor to the crisis. According to some studies, as many as 40 percent of American women never even receive postpartum care from a health care provider, leading to countless unnecessary deaths. African-American women, statistics show, are particularly vulnerable — and die from pregnancy-related causes at three to four times the rate of white women in the U.S.

“We are the only high-income country in the world without paid maternity leave,” said Alison Stuebe, maternal-fetal medicine physician at North Carolina Health Care, in an interview with HuffPost. “Moms covered by pregnancy Medicaid are kicked off 60 days after having a baby. These are decisions we have made as a society … Moms are dying in America because we don’t take care of them.”

Read the full story at HuffPost.


Elizabeth Warren says she’ll pay hospitals that reduce maternal mortality rates for black women

A health insurance loophole is contributing to shockingly high maternal mortality rates in the U.S.

Maternal mortality rates are ‘stunningly high’ for black women in Texas