U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Maternal Mortality

The rate of maternal mortality in the United States declined dramatically over the last century; however, there has been some reversal of this trend in the last several decades. In 2007, the maternal mortality rate was 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to a low of 6.6 per 100,000 in 1987. Some of this increase may be due to changes in the coding and classification of maternal deaths.

In 2007, a total of 548 women were reported to have died of maternal causes. This includes only those deaths due to causes related to or aggravated by pregnancy or pregnancy management, and excludes deaths occurring more than 42 days after the end of the pregnancy and deaths of pregnant women due to external causes (such as injury). The maternal mortality rate among non-Hispanic Black women was 2.7 times the rate for non-Hispanic White women (28.4 versus 10.5 per 100,000).

Causes of maternal death are classified as direct, indirect, or unspecified. Some of the most common direct causes are complications related to the puerperium, or period immediately after delivery (2.2 per 100,000), eclampsia and pre-eclampsia (1.5 per 100,000), hemorrhage of pregnancy, childbirth, and placenta previa (0.9 per 100,000), and pregnancy with abortive outcome (0.5 per 100,000). Indirect causes occurred at a rate of 3.1 per 100,000, and comprised deaths from pre-existing conditions complicated by pregnancy. The rate of maternal deaths from unspecified causes was 0.5 per 100,000.

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