Most Pregnancy Related Deaths are Preventable, Study Finds

Feb 14, 2018

About 700 women across the United States die each year from pregnancy or pregnancy-related complications. A new report has found that most of those deaths are preventable. 

The report published by the CDC Foundation used data from nine maternal mortality review committees. The committees estimate more than 60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable. Nearly 50 percent were caused by hemorrhage, cardiovascular conditions, or infection, but the conditions causing death varied widely by race.

Pregnancy-related mortality has increased steadily in the United States since 1987. Despite high risk factors such as smoking while pregnant and high obesity rates, West Virginia actually has one of the lower maternal mortality rates in the country, with a rate of 13.6 versus 19.9 nationally per 100,000 live births.

The nine committees identified almost 200 recommendations to help prevent pregnancy-related deaths (about 3-4 practices for every common pregnancy-related cause of death). The recommendations included improving training, enforcing policies, improving access to care and improving patient management for mental health conditions. 

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.