A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics shows maternal mortality rates in 2020 substantially increased for Black women. While the report also indicates an increase for Hispanic women, the increase for Black women was much higher.
The World Health Organization defines maternal death as, “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and the site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes.”
Overall, the maternal mortality rate for 2020 was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to a rate of 20.1 in 2019. However, the report shows that the rate in 2020 for Black women was 55.3 per 100,000 live births, 2.9 times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white women and significantly higher than Hispanic women.
Rates increased along with maternal age. In 2020, the rate of deaths per 100,000 live births was 13.8 for women under 25, 22.8 for those aged 25–39, and 107.9 for women 40 and older. For women 40 and over, the rate was 7.8 times higher than for women under 25.
The report also shows that the differences for women aged 25–39 and 40 and over were statistically significant. Also of note in the report: the increase “was not significant” for non-Hispanic white women from 2019 to 2020.