Jul 19, 2023 - Health

Maternal mortality worsens in Georgia

Estimated maternal mortality rate in 2019, by state
Data: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Maternal mortality rates in Georgia have been increasing.

Driving the news: The Georgia Department of Public Health's latest Maternal Mortality Report found 30.2 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births between 2018 and 2020.

  • That's up from 25.1 deaths between 2015 and 2017 and 25.9 deaths from 2012 to 2014.

Be smart: The report defines pregnancy-related deaths as those that happen during or within a year after pregnancy from related complications.

By the numbers: More than half of pregnancy-related deaths were among Black women, 34% were among white women, and 7% were among Hispanic women.

  • 60% of patients were insured by Medicaid when delivering their babies.

Zoom in: When it comes to the racial disparity, the report notes obesity "at least probably" contributed to 42% of deaths, while bias and discrimination accounted for 15%.

  • Mental health issues factored in 18%, and 13% were related to substance abuse.

Of note: 89% of the deaths could have been prevented, the report notes.

Top causes of death were hemorrhage, cardiomyopathy, cardiovascular and coronary issues, preeclampsia and eclampsia, embolism and mental health conditions.

Yes, but: Some Georgia-based pilot programs are showing modest signs of promise, the AJC reports.

  • Those include nurses making home visits to new moms, nonprofits helping increase access to doulas, and state lawmakers' recent expansion of Medicaid to new moms living on low incomes for a full year after they give birth.

The big picture: Nationwide maternal mortality rates more than doubled between 1999 and 2019, with states in the Midwest, Great Plains and South accounting for significant increases, according to a JAMA study, Axios' Oriana González reports.

  • Overall, there were an estimated 1,210 U.S. maternal deaths in 2019, compared to 505 in 1999.

The big picture: American Indians and Alaska Natives had the biggest increases, particularly in states in the middle of the country where such inequities "had not been previously highlighted," researchers wrote.

  • "Often, states in the South are called out as having the worst maternal mortality rates in the nation, whereas California and Massachusetts have the best. But that doesn't tell the whole story," said Allison Bryant, the study's co-author.

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