[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
September 25, 2018

Reducing Maternal Mortality in the United States

Author Affiliations
  • 1Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, Washington, DC
JAMA. 2018;320(12):1237-1238. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.11652

Every year in the United States, more than 700 women die of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth and more than 50 000 women experience a life-threatening complication (severe maternal morbidity).1 Maternal mortality in the United States more than doubled between 2000 and 2014, from 9.8 to 21.5 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births, at a time when 157 of 183 countries in a World Health Organization study reported decreases in maternal mortality.2 Among 31 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development reporting maternal mortality data in 2014, the United States ranked 30th, ahead of only Mexico and more than 3 times higher than Canada and the United Kingdom.2 Meanwhile, large racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities persist.1 For example, African American women are nearly 3 times as likely to die of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth compared with white women (56.3 vs 20.3 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births in 2013-2014), a gap that has not narrowed in decades.1