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Understanding The Rising Risk of Maternal Mortality: A Guide for Families

Learning about the rise in maternal mortality rates can be overwhelming, especially if you are an expectant mother. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, shows a concerning increase in maternal mortality rates in the United States in 2021. It’s essential to understand the causes of the spikes we are seeing, as well as some steps that healthcare providers and patients can take to prevent maternal deaths.

This blog post aims to raise awareness about the potential risks and challenges associated with prenatal care and provide information and resources for families who have experienced maternal loss due to medical malpractice.

Defining Maternal Mortality and Its Causes

Firstly, we need to understand what maternal mortality means. The World Health Organization, WHO, defines maternal mortality as the death of a woman during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days after delivery due to pregnancy or its complications [1].

According to the CDC, maternal mortality rates in the United States have increased since 2018, with 20.1 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019. However, preliminary data for 2021 shows an even higher rate of 22.3 deaths per 100,000 live births [2].

While the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly played into this recent rise, we must look into other factors contributing to maternal deaths, including medical malpractice.

Why Are Maternal Mortality Rates Rising?

So, what are the reasons behind this increase? Experts suggest that the contributing factors include an increase in the number of women with underlying health conditions, such as obesity and hypertension, as well as an increase in the percentage of women who become pregnant at an older age.

Other factors contributing to maternal deaths include inadequate access to quality healthcare, lack of education and awareness among patients, and medical malpractice.

According to the CDC, the leading causes of maternal mortality in the United States include [2]:

  • Underlying cardiovascular conditions
  • Infections left untreated
  • Hemorrhages or severe bleeding after giving birth
  • Pregnancy-related hypertension
  • Complications from anesthesia, embolism, and other factors
  • Pre-eclampsia

Risk factors associated with maternal mortality include age, race, pre-existing health conditions, and access to quality prenatal care.

Legal Options for Families Affected by Maternal Mortality

If your family has experienced a loss due to maternal mortality, you are not alone. It can be essential to understand what your legal options are moving forward.

One of the biggest challenges lies in addressing the issue of medical malpractice, which significantly contributes to maternal deaths. Negligent practices by healthcare providers, including late diagnosis, failed interventions, and general incompetence, can result in severe complications during pregnancy and childbirth, leading to a mother’s death. If you or a loved one has suffered from medical malpractice during pregnancy or childbirth, you may be entitled to compensation. That’s where we come in, helping you get the compensation you deserve.

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Reducing Maternal Deaths: Where To Begin

When it comes to preventing maternal death, there are several things that healthcare providers can do to protect their patients. Ensuring your healthcare provider is competent and equipped with the tools necessary to care for high-risk pregnancies and childbirth is important.

To address the issue of maternal mortality, healthcare providers must take action to reduce the risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Some potential steps include:

  • Improving access to quality prenatal care, particularly for women in underserved communities
  • Implementing evidence-based practices to identify and manage pregnancy-related complications early on
  • Ensuring that medical professionals receive ongoing training on best practices for maternal care

As a patient, it’s essential to ask questions so you can be aware of the potential risks associated with your pregnancy. Be sure to also ask your doctor about any steps you can take to reduce those risks. If you are worried you are not receiving the proper care from your primary provider, it is best to seek a second opinion from a doctor you trust.

Harry S. Cohen & Associates

The increase in maternal mortality rates in 2021 is an alarming trend that must be taken seriously by both healthcare providers and patients alike. Medical errors and negligence often contribute to this already distressing problem.

If you’re a medical malpractice victim or have lost a loved one to maternal mortality, we are here to help. Contact Harry S. Cohen and Associates today. Our team is experienced, knowledgeable and can help you seek the compensation you deserve. Call us at (412) 281-3000 or toll-free at 1-888-MEDMAL1 (1-888-633-6251) for your free consultation.


[1] Maternal Deaths - World Health Organization
[2] Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention