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Vital signs: pregnancy-related deaths, United States, 2011–2015, and strategies for prevention, 13 states, 2013–2017.
Petersen EE, Davis NL, Goodman D, et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019;68:423-429.
Maternal safety is a critical concern in health care, and prior studies have discussed racial and ethnic disparities in patient safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined trends in pregnancy-related deaths between 2011 and 2015. This analysis found that black women had rates of maternal mortality 3.5 times that of white women; Native American/Alaska Native women had rates 2.5 times higher than white women. About 60% of deaths were deemed preventable, and leading causes included cardiovascular events such as venous thromboembolism, infection, and hemorrhage. The study team recommends implementing interventions at health system, provider, community, and patient levels to prevent maternal mortality. A recent Annual Perspective on maternal safety touched on the persistently higher death rates among black women and discussed national initiatives to improve outcomes in maternity care.