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Photo: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

60% of U.S. deaths from pregnancy-related complications were found to be preventable, the CDC announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: Public health officials have been grappling with the knowledge that the U.S. continues to have one of the highest maternal death rates despite being one of the biggest economies in the world. It also has an implicit racial bias as black and American Indian/Alaska Native women were 3 times more likely to die than white women.

By the numbers: The CDC, in its Vitals Signs report, shows 700 American women die every year from pregnancy-related deaths. For the period of 2011–2015, these include 31% during pregnancy, 36% during delivery or the week after delivery and 33% after that week and up to a year after birth.

Details: Overall, heart disease and stroke led to more than one-third of the deaths.

  • During delivery, obstetric emergencies — such as severe bleeding and amniotic fluid entering the bloodstream — caused most deaths.
  • In the week after delivery, severe bleeding, high blood pressure, and infection were the most common complications.
  • Longer-term, cardiomyopathy, or weakened heart muscle, caused most deaths during the period from one week to one year after delivery.
  • The timing of deaths did not significantly differ between black and white women for most periods, but the report shows black women experienced more deaths in the later part of the postpartum period — mostly due to cardiomyopathy.

The state of play: CDC officials called the situation "complex," but added that it's one that the agency and other health institutions are working to rectify, particularly by identifying and addressing complications early.

  • Providers need to communicate risk factors like chronic conditions that play a role, such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and to teach women to watch for warning signs.
  • Access to high-quality care is a problem, especially for those in rural areas, like American Indian/Alaska Native women.
  • Addressing implicit biases in the health care systems also is needed, which ranges from lack of access to prenatal and postpartum care, said Dr. Wanda Barfield, the director of the CDC's division of reproductive health.

What's next: The CDC will provide support to as many as 25 maternal mortality review committees across the country, beginning this fall, which should provide better community-based information, officials said.

Go deeper: The unexpected cost of a failed pregnancy

Go deeper

CPAC Republicans choose conservatism over constituents

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

CPAC proved such a draw, conservative Republicans chose the conference over their constituents.

Why it matters: More than a dozen House Republicans voted by proxy on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in Washington so they could speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. And Sen. Ted Cruz skipped an Air Force One flight as President Biden flew to Cruz's hometown of Houston to survey storm damage.

Border Democrat warns Biden about immigrant fallout

Henry Cuellar (right). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

A Democratic lawmaker representing a border district warned the Biden administration against easing up too much on unauthorized immigrants, citing their impact on his constituents, local hospitals and their potential to spread the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios he supports President Biden. But the moderate said he sees the downsides of efforts to placate pro-immigrant groups, an effort that threatens to blow up on the administration.

In CPAC speech, Trump says he won't start a 3rd party

Trump at CPAC on Feb. 28 in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Courtesy of C-SPAN.

In his first public speech since leaving office, former President Trump told the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he would not start a third party because "we have the Republican party."

Why it matters: The former president aims to cement himself as Republicans' "presumptive 2024 nominee" as his top contenders — including former members of his administration — face the challenge of running against the GOP's most popular politician.