Reducing Maternal Mortality, a Healthy People 2030 Leading Health Indicator

June 17, 2024 | Corinne Gillenwater

Mid-section shot of three pregnant individuals with hands on their bellies sitting in a waiting room.

U.S. maternal mortality statistics are staggering: In 2022, there were 22.3 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. And the crisis has only worsened over time—between 1999 and 2022, maternal mortality rates doubled among all people. Black and American Indian and Alaska Native women are disproportionately impacted, with maternal mortality rates approximately three and two times higher than the rate for White women, respectively, according to 2016-2018 data. Furthermore, the United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates among other high-income countries, climbing to more than three times their rates in 2020. Sadly, these statistics largely tell of tragedies that could have been avoided, as over 80% of pregnancy-related deaths in the United States from 2017 to 2019 were preventable.

These data show that maternal health is in a concerning state, yet it is largely overlooked and underprioritized. ASTHO recognizes that more must be done and collaborates with partners to raise awareness for maternal health as well as build capacity for public health leaders to reduce maternal mortality.

Maternal Mortality Is a Public Health Priority

The urgency of the maternal mortality crisis is front of mind for state health officials, as maternal, child, and family health (MCFH) topped the list of ASTHO’s 2023 Environmental Scan of Current and Emerging Public Health Priorities. Due to an influx of responses focused on MCFH topics, ASTHO published a brief on MCFH-specific findings, highlighting the need for maternal and infant mortality prevention. In addition, territorial health officials elevated maternal, infant, and child healthcare as a public health program and service priority under the focus on access to and linkage with care.

Maternal mortality is also a key priority issue in the Healthy People 2030 framework, which outlines data-driven national objectives to promote health, well-being, and health equity over the next decade. Among these objectives are 23 high-priority Leading Health Indicators (LHIs)—selected to help organizations, communities, and state and territorial health departments focus resources and efforts—one of which is reducing maternal deaths. This reflects, yet again, the critical importance of prioritizing maternal health in the United States. There is detailed data, a description of data methodology and measurements, and evidence-based resources for this LHI, which the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion updates regularly.

ASTHO’s Work to Reduce Maternal Mortality

ASTHO’s Maternal and Infant Health (MIH) team advances the LHI to reduce maternal deaths in its daily work. It facilitates learning communities and develops capacity building and technical assistance resources that can help state and territorial health officials (S/THOs) promote maternal health and well-being.

Learning Communities

Knowledge Sharing

Advancing Better Health Outcomes Together

ASTHO demonstrates a strong commitment to Healthy People 2030 objectives and priority areas of health equity, health literacy, and social determinants of health in our daily programmatic work. With the support of dedicated funding and a determination to advance LHIs through capacity building and technical assistance, ASTHO and Healthy People 2030 work together to help S/THAs achieve better health outcomes and promote health equity.

This blog post offers just a glimpse into the MIH team’s efforts to reduce maternal mortality and how it can support S/THOs in their own work. For S/THOs looking to learn more or get involved with MIH work at ASTHO, please email In addition, explore all 23 LHIs and determine how to best focus public health resources and interventions to meet specific community needs.

This publication was made possible by Grant Number 6 NU38OT000290-05-03 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of HHS.

The author would like to thank Lexa Giragosian, Senior Analyst on ASTHO’s maternal and infant health team, for her collaboration on and contributions to this blog post.