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Maternal mortality rate up sharply in 2021



(Washington) The maternal mortality rate in the United States jumped in 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released Thursday, which shows that black women are more than twice as likely to die as white women.

Maternal mortality is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as death occurring during pregnancy or in the following 42 days, for a cause related to or aggravated by this pregnancy or its management.

A total of 1,205 women lost their lives in the United States in 2021, compared to 861 in 2020 and 754 in 2019, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The maternal mortality rate therefore stood at 32.9 deaths per 100,000 births in 2021, compared to 23.8 per 100,000 births in 2020 and 20.1 in 2019.

“The most powerful country in the world should not accept this reality, it is a crisis situation,” said White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.

The last time the US maternal mortality rate was this high was officially in the mid-1960s – although a new methodology has been in use since 2018. It is also the worst rate among industrialized countries.

Maternal mortality has in fact generally declined in the world in the 20e century thanks to medical advances. But since the 2000s, the United States has been on the wrong track again, unlike most other comparable countries.

And the data also shows strong inequalities.

In 2021, the maternal mortality rate was 69.9 per 100,000 births among black women, more than double that of white women, which was 26.6 per 100,000 births.

The NCHS did not provide an explanation for this sharp rise in the maternal mortality ratio in 2021 or for the disparities between black and white women.

But medical experts say the pandemic is a big factor, as are socioeconomic conditions and a lack of access to pre- and postnatal care for many black women.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic and tragic effect on maternal mortality rates, but we cannot hide the fact that there was – and still is – a maternal mortality crisis,” said Iffath Abbasi Hoskins, president of the American Association of Gynecologists and Obstetricians.

“Pregnant and postpartum Black people continue to account for a disproportionate number of maternal deaths at alarmingly increasing rates,” she added in a statement. “This trend must be stopped.”

The White House has denounced the Republicans’ repeated attempts to repeal legislation dubbed “Obamacare”, which allows people who already have health problems to still be able to take out medical insurance.

The Republicans are also accused of wanting to reduce “Medicaid”, a universal health coverage system intended for the most modest.

“It’s incomprehensible and incredibly dangerous what we’re seeing from our Republican colleagues in Congress,” she said. Republicans want to destroy American health care,” said Jean Pierre.

According to the spokesperson, 40% of women depend on the “Medicaid” system at the time of childbirth.

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