Utah's explosive rise in Indigenous maternal deaths
The maternal death rate is higher for Indigenous Utahns than any racial group in any state, according to a new JAMA report that provides the first-ever state-level breakdowns by ethnic group.
Driving the news: Among Indigenous Utah women who had babies in 2019, 301 of 100,000 died within a year, researchers found.
- That's more than quadruple the national rate for American Indian and Alaska Native patients, and 10 times the maternal mortality rate for white Utahns.
By the numbers: The maternal mortality rate for Indigenous Utahns increased 10-fold from 1999 to 2019, researchers found.
- Numbers nearly doubled in 2018 and more than doubled again in 2019.
The big picture: American Indians and Alaska Natives had the biggest increases nationally, too — 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," Allison Bryant, one of the study's authors, told Axios' Oriana González.
Zoom out: Idaho's Indigenous maternal mortality rate also rose sharply around the same time, to 286 deaths per 100,000 live births.
- Utah and Idaho were the only states where American Indian and Alaska Native mortality rates grew by more than 200 from 1999 to 2019.
Context: Utah's overall maternal mortality rate — 18 deaths per 100,000 births — nearly doubled from 1999 to 2019, but remains below the national average of 21.
- Overall, there were an estimated 1,210 U.S. maternal deaths in 2019, compared to 505 in 1999.
Details: Maternal mortality is defined as a death that takes place during birth or up to a year later.
- The study looked at pregnant individuals ages 10 to 54.
- Common causes of maternal death include mental health conditions (including death by suicide and overdose related to substance use disorder), hemorrhages, blood clots, high blood pressure and cardiac and coronary conditions.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
Go deeper: Maternal deaths widespread beyond the South
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