After the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, maternal mortality in the U.S. increased by about one-third, according to new research published by the American Medical Association. The report’s staggering findings on the mortality rate of pregnant mothers — which compared death rates before and during the pandemic — also found that deaths during or soon after pregnancy saw the greatest increase among Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black women.
The June 28 research letter published by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network relied on data from The National Center for Health Statistics. Researchers examined maternal death rates during or up to 42 days after pregnancy, comparing rates from 2018 through the first quarter of 2020 to the months from April through December. In the first time period, the rate was roughly 19 per every 100,000 live births. In the second time frame, of 2020, that rate jumped by 33%, to 25 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.
The medical research findings illustrate the dire impact of the coronavirus on pregnant and postpartum mothers: COVID-19 was listed as a secondary cause of death in 102 of 684 maternal deaths.
Hispanic women saw the highest jump in maternal deaths, with a 74% increase. Deaths for Non-Hispanic Black women increased roughly 40%.
In total, the 33% rise in maternal deaths during the pandemic was far steeper than the 22% “excess death estimate” for all Americans associated with the pandemic, the report concluded.