Deaths Among Pregnant Women and New Mothers Rose Sharply During Pandemic
By Caryn Roni Rabin
According to a study published in JAMA Network Open, the number of deaths among pregnant women or women who had been pregnant within the past year rose to 2,516 in 2020 from 2,019 in 2019. Deaths related to pregnancy complications rose in 2020, as did deaths from drugs, motor vehicle collisions, and homicides; there was no increase in deaths related to suicide among pregnant and previously pregnant women from 2019 to 2020. According to the analysis of death certificates, COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death for 23 pregnant and previously pregnant women, and a contributing factor in 171 deaths among this group. The study also found that Native American women were 3.5 times more likely than white women to die during or after pregnancy. Compared to white women, Native American women were three times as likely to die from pregnancy complications, five times as likely to die in car accidents, three times as likely to die of drug overdoses or homicide, and four times as likely to die from suicide. Black women were 2.8 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications and five times more likely to die as a result of homicide than white women. According to Jeffrey T. Howard, lead author and an associate professor of public health at the University of Texas at San Antonio, "There is definitely a problem in our country for women who are either pregnant or in the postpartum period, who are vulnerable and under a lot of stress. We are failing these women as a society and failing these children."
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