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January 3, 1986

Maternal Mortality in Women Aged 35 Years or Older: United States

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Reproductive Health, Center for Health Promotion and Education, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta. Dr Kaunitz is now with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital, Jacksonville, Fla.

JAMA. 1986;255(1):53-57. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370010059025

To examine maternal mortality among women aged 35 years or older, we used death certificates from the United States for 1974 through 1978. There were 425 maternal deaths, corresponding to a mortality rate of 58.3 deaths per 100,000 live births. This rate was higher than the rate for women 20 through 34 years of age (race-adjusted relative risk [RR]=4.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.6 to 4.4). The leading causes of death were obstetric hemorrhage and embolism. Black women had higher mortality rates than white women for deaths without abortive outcomes (RR=3.3; CI, 2.7 to 4.1) and with abortive outcomes (RR=9.4; 95% CI, 5.8 to 15.3), and the latter difference was largely due to a higher rate of deaths associated with ectopic pregnancy among black women. From 1974 through 1978, compared with 1982, maternal mortality rates for women aged 35 years or older reported by the National Center for Health Statistics declined approximately 50%. Among white women, changes in age and parity accounted for less than half of this decrease, suggesting that improvements have occurred in age- and parityspecific mortality for women aged 35 years or older.

(JAMA 1986;255:53-57)