New Study Shows Maternal Deaths In The US Could Overly Be Exaggerated

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A recent study suggests that the reported mortality rate during pregnancy in the United States, as documented by the CDC, might be significantly overstated. Researchers from Rutgers Health and various other academic institutions attribute this concerning inflation to flawed surveillance methods.

Maternal death attributed to pregnancy-related conditions

According to the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a significant increase in maternal mortality rates over the last two decades. As of the year 2021, the estimated maternal death rate stands at 32.9 per 100,000 live births, marking a more than threefold rise. This statistic is particularly concerning as it surpasses the maternal mortality rates of all other affluent countries.

The recent study analyzed US deaths from 1999 to 2021, finding a consistent maternal death rate of slightly over 10 per 100,000 live births, in line with other countries. Maternal deaths occur during pregnancy, childbirth, or shortly after due to pregnancy-related conditions. The study criticizes NVSS methodology for incorrectly counting unrelated deaths as maternal deaths.

Cande Ananth, Chief of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and senior author of the study, said that CDC has admitted to past errors inflating statistics, but corrective measures have proven ineffective.

Maternal death rates reportedly increased between 2018 to 2021

Official estimates indicate a significant increase in maternal death rates from 2018 to 2021, contradicting actual data. Despite this, some media sources have misreported these statistics. Ananth emphasizes the importance of correcting this misinformation, as accurate figures are crucial for understanding the situation and directing resources towards improvement.

Improvements in obstetrical care during the study period contributed to a decrease in death rates. However, this progress was counteracted by declines in patient health, resulting in a largely stable overall death rate. Maternal death rate estimates began to increase in 2003 with the introduction of a pregnancy checkbox on U.S. death certificates. Deaths unrelated to pregnancy were erroneously included in maternal mortality rates, leading to inaccuracies. Consequently, the CDC ceased reporting maternal death rates in the United States from 2007 to 2017.

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