Jul 13, 2023 - Health

Massachusetts' maternal mortality rate is rising

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

The rate of complications from pregnancy or delivery in Massachusetts nearly doubled between 2011 and 2020, according to the state.

Driving the news: A report from the Department of Public Health found cases of severe maternal morbidity — where birthing people experience severe long- or short-term health problems after pregnancy — rose over 92% in a decade.

  • 52.3 deliveries per 10,000 were complicated in 2011. That number jumped to 100.4 per 10,000 in 2020.
  • DPH officials reported that non-Hispanic Black residents suffer the highest rates of maternal morbidity at 2.3 times that of the white population.

What they're saying: "Massachusetts has the best health care system in the country, but this report shows that there is much more work that we need to do to address racial and gender inequities in health care," Gov. Maura Healey said in a release.

  • The report, based on findings from the state's Public Health Data Warehouse, is the first to focus on maternal health.

By the numbers: The rate at which people are dying during or after childbirth is also on the rise.

  • Maternal mortality rates in Massachusetts increased over 136% between 1999 and 2019, according to a JAMA study, Axios' Oriana González reports.
  • The overall number of deaths per 100,000 live births in Massachusetts increased from 6.9 to 16.3 between 1999-2019.

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.

  • In total, there were an estimated 1,210 U.S. maternal deaths in 2019, compared to 505 in 1999 — a 139.6% increase.

Be smart: Maternal mortality is defined as a death that takes place during birth or up to a year later.

Go deeper: Maternal deaths widespread beyond the South


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