The rate of maternal mortality in the United States has declined dramatically since 1950; however, the maternal mortality rate in 2005 (15.1 per 100,000 live births) was nearly 70 percent higher than the rate reported in 2002 (8.9 per 100,000). According to the National Center for Health Statistics, this increase may largely be due to changes in how pregnancy status is recorded on death certificates.
In 2005, there were a total of 623 maternal deaths resulting from complications during pregnancy, childbirth, or up to 42 days postpartum. The maternal mortality rate among non-Hispanic Black women (39.2 per 100,000 live births) was more than 3 times the rate among non-Hispanic White women (11.7 per 100,000) and more than 4 times the rate of Hispanic women (9.6 per 100,000).
The risk of maternal death increases with age, regardless of race. In 2005, the maternal mortality rate among women aged 35 years and older (38.0 per 100,000 live births) was more than 3 times the rate of women aged 20–24 years (10.7 per 100,000) and more than 5 times that of women under 20 years of age (7.4 per 100,000).