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During the past several decades, the rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. has declined dramatically. Since 1982, however, the maternal mortality rate has not declined significantly.

In 2002, 357 maternal deaths resulted from complications during pregnancy, childbirth, or up to 42 days postpartum. The maternal mortality rate of 8.9 per 100,000 live births was not significantly different from those reported in recent years.

The maternal mortality rate among non-Hispanic Black women (24.9 per 100,000 live births) is more than four times the rate among non-Hispanic White women (5.6 per 100,000 live births). This disparity has widened since 2000.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the risk of maternal death increases for women over age 30, regardless of race. Women aged 35-39 years have over three times the risk of maternal death as women aged 20-24 years.1

Graph: Maternal Mortality Rates by Race/Ethnicity[d]

1 National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2004. Hyattsville, Maryland: 2004.