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Maternal Mortality

Updated: Mar 24

In 2019, 754 women passed away from complications related to childbirth in the US. In 2020, it was 861, then In 2021, it was 1,205. The causes of increased maternal morality, or the rate at which women die due to childbirth complications, in America remain controversial. How do economic fluctuations impact these rates? Which areas have the highest concentration of deaths? Have recent developments in abortion policy affected maternal mortality? What about broader healthcare policy?

Major health complications, accounting for 75% of all maternal deaths, include severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure, delivery complications and dangerous abortions.

Other complications, usually factors associated with infections and chronic conditions, may exist before pregnancy and worsen during the nine months of prenatal development.

Low-income and underdeveloped countries account for 94% of all maternal deaths in the world. Poverty, long distances to health facilities, lack of education and information, inadequate care and cultural beliefs are just some of the factors preventing pregnant people from receiving or seeking care during their pregnancies or deliveries. 

For instance, more than 90% of births benefit from a trained midwife, doctor or nurse. However, poorer regions lack skilled healthcare professionals, resulting in pregnant women receiving lower quality of care than those in higher-income countries. 

Maternal mortality is a complex problem. There’s far more to be said, but hopefully this explainer has given you a good starting point.


Hoyert, Donna L. “Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2021.” The National Center for Health Statistics, CDC, 2021. Updated 23 March 2023. 

“Maternal Mortality.” World Health Organization, 19 Sept. 2019,

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