Causes contributing to the excess maternal mortality risk for women 35 and over, United States, 2016–2017

Marian F. MacDorman, Marie Thoma, Eugene Declercq, Elizabeth A. Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

To better understand age-related disparities in US maternal mortality, we analyzed 2016–2017 vital statistics mortality data with cause-of-death literal text (actual words written on the death certificate) added. We created a subset of confirmed maternal deaths which had pregnancy mentions in the cause-of-death literals. Primary cause of death was identified and recoded using cause-of-death literals. Age-related disparities were examined both overall and by primary cause. Compared to women <35, the 2016–2017 US maternal mortality rate was twice as high for women aged 35–39, four times higher for women aged 40–44, and 11 times higher for women aged 45–54 years. Obstetric hemorrhage was the leading cause of death for women aged 35+ with rates 4 times higher than for women <35, followed by postpartum cardiomyopathy with a 3-fold greater risk. Obstetric embolism, eclampsia/preeclampsia, and Other complications of obstetric surgery and procedures each had a twofold greater risk of death for women aged 35+. Together these 5 causes of death accounted for 70.9% of the elevated maternal mortality risk for women aged 35+. The excess maternal mortality risk for women aged 35+ was focused among a few causes of death and much of this excess mortality is preventable. Early detection and treatment, as well as continued care during the postpartum year is critical to preventing these deaths. The Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health has promulgated patient safety bundles with specific interventions that health care systems can adopt in an effort to prevent these deaths.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0253920
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume16
Issue number6 June 2021
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

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