According to a the research, the period from 2000 to 2014 saw a significant increase in the maternal death rate by about 27%. In 2000, each 100,000 live births witnessed the death of 19 women during or within 42 days after delivery. This number increased to 24 women for each 100,000 live births in 2014. This new finding is much worse than it was thought previously. The federal health officials had already reported that the maternal death rate is increasing, but their figures were lower – 16 % per 100,000.

Is this the United States true picture?

According to Marian MacDorman from the University of Maryland and a lead researcher, the findings paint the true position of the U.S. Her team goes on to say that this is not a good place to be. Basing on the 2014 figures, America would be at position 30 of the 31 countries that report to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It will beat out only Mexico. The researchers explain that the increase may be due to improvements in reporting. From 2003, the United States has been bringing onboard a revised standard death certificate that has got numerous check boxes for pregnancy.

MacDorman said that maternal death is not that common but said what concerned them is the fact that it is not declining but instead is on the rise.

Causes of the increase

The study team reported that their focus was not to get the causes but instead were just after the numbers. Dr. Nancy Chescheir of bstetrics & Gynecology, speculated on some factors that may be at play. She said that most pregnant women in the U.S. are obese or overweight at the time of pregnancy. In addition, most of them are having babies at old age. These conditions expose them to diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Thus, as they step into the delivery room, the risks involved are higher than in the past.

But the study did not fail to have some positives. Unlike the other states, California indicated a decline in the maternal death rate to 15 per 100,000 live births in 2014. Chescheir explains that this may be due to detailed health effort referred to as the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative. Hospitals, state agencies, health plans and other groups collaborated to spot the causatives of maternal deaths and then took steps to fix them. These included causes such as hemorrhage and preeclampsia.

In fixing the problem, the group created online toolkits that would assist hospitals manage hemorrhaging and preeclampsia properly. They did a great job in getting the resources rolled out. MacDorman was in agreement, saying that other states could borrow a leaf from California.

Chescheir points out that when women die during or after pregnancy is mostly not due to obstetric complications but rather caused by drug and violence.

A separate study was done in Illinois between 2002 and 2011 regarding maternal death rate. The study found out that over one-third of the deaths were caused by substance abuse, homicide, car accidents and suicide. 13% of these were due to homicides.