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Maternal Deaths Skyrocket — Highest Rate Since 1965

Graham Perdue
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Deaths of American women occurring during pregnancy or just after have hit the highest rate since 1965, according to a Thursday report by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Maternal deaths went up by 40% to 1,205 in 2021, rising from 861 in 2020 and 754 in 2019, moving the maternal mortality rate up to 33 per 100,000 live births, the largest reported rate since 1965.

This number dwarfs reported figures from France, the U.K., and Canada, which reportedly saw eight, 10, and 11 deaths per 100,000 live births.


Census Data revealed that Black women comprised 30% of maternal deaths despite Black people only being 14% of the U.S. population. 

PBS NewsHour reported that the U.S. has the worst rate of mothers dying during pregnancy or childbirth of any first-world country. 

Stacey D. Stewart, who is president and chief executive of March of Dimes, reportedly told The Wall Street Journal that he thinks COVID-19 may have affected this increase in maternal mortality, saying, “It’s hard for us to speculate, but we did suspect that the pandemic would have an unfortunate effect on maternal mortality.”

The New York Post reported that OECD Health Statistics found that Australia, Austria, Israel, Japan, and Spain all tracked around 2 to 3 deaths per 100,000 births in 2020.


The World Health Organization found that maternal mortality rates in the U.S. went up 78% between 2000 and 2020 while falling in most other countries.

“There is just no reason for a rich country to have poor maternal mortality,” Eileen Crimmins, a professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California, said to NPR.

Donna Hoyert, who works as a health scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics, offered some hope, with The Post reporting that she said some data may imply that the pregnancy-related deaths may have maxed out in 2021 and went down last year.

“So hopefully that’s the apex,” she said.

This data comes after a piece of recent news claimed the U.S. has plummeted in life expectancy when compared to other nations, dropping over 40 places down the list in a new UK-based report.