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March 16, 1940


JAMA. 1940;114(11):963-964. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810110029014

Maternal mortality rates of the United States have been reported and discussed for several years apparently to conjure conclusions designed to throw discredit on the medical profession. The publicity of the Interdepartmental Committee repeatedly charged that there had been no significant decline in the rate of maternal mortality "in the registration area" of the United States during the last twenty years. Credence was given to this statement by the fact that the "registration area" was constantly changing as new states, usually with higher mortality rates, were admitted to the area. Since 1931 only two new states (South Dakota in 1931 and Texas in 1932) have been added to the birth registration area. Only in more recent years have any statistics been available for a uniform registration area. In 1931 the death rate for puerperal causes in the registration area was 6.6 per thousand live births; in 1938 it was 4.4.