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CDC: Pregnancy-Related Deaths Occur Before, During, Postpartum

60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths determined to be preventable, with multiple contributory factors

TUESDAY, May 7, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Pregnancy-related deaths occur during pregnancy, on the day of delivery, and in the year postpartum, and more than half are determined to be preventable, according to research published in the May 7 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Emily E. Peterson, M.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from the CDC national Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System for 2011 to 2015 to assess pregnancy-related complications as well as their preventability, contributory factors, and prevention strategies.

The researchers found that the national pregnancy-related mortality ratio (PRMR) was 17.2 per 100,000 live births. The highest PRMRs were 42.8 and 32.5 for non-Hispanic black women and American Indian/Alaska Native women, respectively, compared with 13.0 for white women. For 87.7 percent of pregnancy-related deaths, timing of death was known: 31.3 percent occurred during pregnancy, 16.9 percent occurred on the day of delivery, and 18.6, 21.4, and 11.7 percent occurred at one to six, seven to 42, and 43 to 365 days postpartum, respectively. Cardiovascular conditions, infection, and hemorrhage were leading causes of death, which varied by timing. About 60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths were determined to be preventable; multiple factors contributed to pregnancy-related deaths and could be categorized at the community, health facility, patient, provider, and system levels.

“These data demonstrate the need to address the multiple factors that contribute to pregnancy-related deaths during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum,” the authors write.

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