Rates of mortality and morbidity from pregnancy-related complications in the United States have increased steadily over the past three decades, resulting in a rate almost double that of other economically developed nations. Deaths and “near-miss” incidents reflect failed opportunities within healthcare and public health systems to address problems such as access to care, overlooked diagnoses, and other warning signs leading to complications or death.
Significant disparities exist by race and ethnicity. Black and American Indian/Alaskan Native women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than White women. In Black women, traditional protective factors such as education and income are shown to make little difference in risk of death related to pregnancy and birth.
Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Policy Statement
ASTHO affirms that preventing maternal mortality and morbidity is critical to promoting health across the lifespan. This is best accomplished by addressing the social, economic, and healthcare issues and barriers that impact women’s health at multiple levels and identifying upstream causes of negative outcomes, rooted in the social determinants of health (SDOH).