Pregnancy-related deaths: A Review

Recently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), published an updated review on “Pregnancy-Related Deaths.” Find it HERE. The 2017 review gives more information on the following key findings from 14 state Maternal Mortality Review Committees- including Florida:

  • Approximately 1 in 3 deaths during or within a year of pregnancy were pregnancy-related. What does that mean? 24% of deaths took place during pregnancy; 34% took place on the day of delivery or within the week following; 19% took place within days 7-42 after delivery; and 24% took place within days 43-1 year (365 days) after delivery.
  • Heart-related conditions were among the top causes of death for non-Hispanic Black women and mental health conditions (including suicide, substance abuse and overdose) was the top underlying cause of death for non-Hispanic White women. The report states there was not enough information/data to conclude the leading causes of pregnancy-related death for Hispanic women.
  • 65.8% were deemed preventable by the review board committees. That means 2 in 3 deaths could have been prevented. What does that mean? “Preventability is defined by these committees as: “at least some chance of the death being averted by one or more reasonable changes to patient, community, provider, facility, and/or systems factors.

2 out of 3 deaths were preventable.

Davis NL, Smoots AN, Goodman DG. Pregnancy-Related Deaths: Data from 14 U.S. Maternal Mortality Review Committees, 2008-2017. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2019.

A 2016 study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that mental illness was among the TOP 3 causes for hospital readmission among postpartum women in Florida.

So, what can you do to lower your health risks? We suggest being proactive- ASK the questions you want answered by your provider and talk with them about your concerns. Do not mask or hide when you are not feeling well. Remember that MENTAL HEALTH is HEALTH. Make sure you feel your provider is the “best fit” for you and switch if not. Trust your “gut feeling,” it’s there for a reason. You are your best advocate and expert.

Some additional resources for your knowledge base: