High-risk pregnancy expert is alarmed by rising U.S. maternal death rate

March 20, 2023
UCI Health obstetrician and high-risk pregnancy expert Dr. Carol A. Major.
Dr. Carol A. Major says the latest U.S. maternal mortality rates should be a call to action. Photo by Michael Der for UCI Health 

IN THE NEWS: The U.S. maternal death rate — already the developed world’s highest — spiked 40% in 2021, according to federal data released last week.

That grim statistic is a call to action for Dr. Carol A. Major, who recently spoke to KNX News about the issue.

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“We are the richest country in the world and we have the best technology in the world, and yet our moms are more likely to die during childbirth than pretty much any other developed country in the world, which is a really sad state,” said Major, an obstetrician who leads High-Risk Pregnancy Services at UCI Health.

Major, professor and chief of the UCI School of Medicine's Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, wants healthcare professionals to understand the role of unconscious bias in contributing to such health inequities.

Among all women, the maternal mortality rose to nearly 33 deaths per 100,000 live births, up from 24 the year before. But for Black women, the crisis is even greater. They are nearly three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than non-Hispanic white women. In 2021, there were 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births among Black women vs. 26.6 for non-Hispanic white women.

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