June 30, 2022

Maternal mortality before vs during COVID-19

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study by researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Boston University finds that maternal deaths increased 33.3% after March 2020, which corresponds with the onset of COVID-19. This is higher than the 22% overall excess death estimate associated with the pandemic.

Among the findings:

  • 1,588 maternal deaths occurred before the pandemic (2018 to March 2020) vs 684 deaths during the pandemic (April to December 2020), a relative increase of 33.3%
  • late maternal mortality increased by 41%
  • increases in mortality were highest for Hispanic (74.2%) and non-Hispanic Black (40.2%) vs non-Hispanic White (17.2%) women
  • a secondary code for COVID-19 was listed in 14.9% of maternal deaths in quarters 2 to 4 of 2020, and 0% in quarter 1—this percentage was highest in Hispanic (32.1%), followed by non-Hispanic Black (12.9%), and non-Hispanic White (7.3%) women.

Future studies of maternal deaths should examine the contribution of COVID-19 to racial and ethnic disparities and identify specific causes associated with COVID-19, the researchers say.

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